tom thibodeau
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks are entering a stretch of games that could define this season.

The New York Knicks are underachieving no matter how you slice it. After finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference and making marquee additions in free agency, 11th place in the Eastern Conference isn’t good enough. Not by a longshot.

With that said, we haven’t even hit the midway point of the season. Tom Thibodeau‘s Knicks have plenty of time to turn things around. In fact, the 2020-21 Knicks were 19-19 through 38 games, just one game better than this year’s squad.

But if the Knicks are going to make a turnaround, now would be a good time to start.

Their win over the Indiana Pacers kicked off a 10-game stretch that features eight games at Madison Square Garden, only three of which are against teams with records above .500 — Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets, and Los Angeles Clippers.

The Clippers are at .500 exactly while the Mavericks and Hornets are a combined three games above sea level. This isn’t a murderer’s row that the Knicks are facing over the next few weeks.

Knicks Upcoming Schedule

Jan. 6 — vs. Boston Celtics (18-20)
Jan. 8 — @ Boston Celtics (18-20)
Jan. 10 — vs. San Antonio Spurs (15-22)
Jan. 12 — vs. Dallas Mavericks (20-18)
Jan. 15 — @ Atlanta Hawks (17-20)
Jan. 17 — vs. Charlotte Hornets (20-19)
Jan. 18 — vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (18-20)
Jan. 20 — vs. New Orleans Pelicans (13-25)
Jan. 23 — vs. Los Angeles Clippers (19-19)

Records as of Thursday, Jan. 6.

Although the Knicks are on the outside looking in at the play-in tournament, they can flip the script over the course of the next three days. They have a home-and-home series with the Boston Celtics on Thursday and Saturday.

It just so happens that the Celtics own the same record as the Knicks — 18-20 — and currently occupy the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference.

In a perfect scenario where we put on our orange and blue-colored glasses, the Knicks will be 20-20 and two games ahead of the Celtics in the standings when this weekend is through.

A strong 7-3 record during this 10-game stretch would put the Knicks at 24-23 and give them a little bit of momentum.

They are going to need it based on the schedule after these next 10 games.

After the Clippers game, the Knicks are on the road for eight of their next 12 leading up to the All-Star break. That includes nine games against teams currently in the playoffs or play-in (Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, Golden State Warriors, and Brooklyn Nets).

If the Knicks fail to capitalize on this manageable 10 games, the next 12 could put their season on life support.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.