Shaq, Barkley still doubt streaking Knicks can win a playoff series: ‘They’re not even the best team in their city’

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Nov 25, 2022; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) reacts after being called for a foul against Portland Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons (1) by referee Pat Fraher (26) during overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Despite being the NBA’s hottest team, the New York Knicks still have no shortage of doubters.

Count NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley, who weighed in on whether this much-improved Knicks roster is better than their 2021 playoff team before Tuesday’s win against the reigning but reeling champion Golden State Warriors.

“I don’t think [the Knicks] can get out of one round of the playoffs.”

Shaquille O’Neal via Inside the NBA on TNT

Barkley, though, pointed out that Julius Randle is doing a much better job this season with the arrival of Jalen Brunson. Still, he agreed with O’Neal’s discouraging assessment of the surging Knicks.

“Julius Randle is a much better finisher than a starter because he gets walled up [by opposing defenses]. That’s what happened in the [2021] playoffs. [Randle] trying to make every play, [Atlanta Hawks] walled [him] up, he couldn’t score. Now, Brunson comes in, [Randle’s] done a fabulous job. But I’m with you, Shaq, whoop-de-do, [Knicks] are not even the best team in the same state.”

Charles Barkley via Inside the NBA on TNT

When Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson tried to talk him out, “Hey, you can’t give love to anybody,” Barkley cut him off immediately and doubled down on his take.

“I gave love to [Knicks]. I said they’re playing great. But they’re not even the best team in their city.”

Charles Barkley via Inside the NBA on TNT

Barkley was referring to the Brooklyn Nets as the best team in New York. The Nets are the league’s second-hottest team, riding high on a six-game winning streak. They have won 10 of their last 11 games to vault to the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with a 19-12 record.

After O’Neal and Barkley’s disparaging comments, the Knicks proceeded to trounce the Warriors, who played without Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins, by 38 points and moved within one game of the Nets with their 18th win in 31 games.

It was the Knicks’ fourth-longest winning streak in the last 30 years. They have the chance to match the third-longest in franchise history and their longest winning streak under Tom Thibodeau — during their run-up to the 2021 playoffs — on Wednesday night when they host the struggling Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are coming off their sixth straight loss last Monday night in Philadelphia despite the return of O.G. Anunoby, the subject of a Knicks’ trade inquiry before this current win streak, from injury.

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