For the first time in a long time, the New York Knicks are the NBA's hottest team. The Knicks' 120-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday was their ninth straight win -- the longest current winning streak in the NBA, and New York's longest since 2013. As he has all season, Julius Randle led the way for the Knicks with 31 points and 10 rebounds against Toronto.
Randle clearly wasn't content with making his first All-Star team earlier this season, as he's been on an absolute tear as of late. Check out his stats during New York's current streak:
The Knicks have won 9 in a row.— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 24, 2021
Julius Randle in that span:
31p | 10r | 1a | 5 3pt
40p | 11r | 6a | 6 3pt
16p | 10r | 7a | 1 3pt
33p | 5r | 10a | 2 3pt
44p | 10r | 7a | 6 3pt
32p | 8r | 5a | 5 3pt
34p | 10r | 4a | 2 3pt
26p | 8r | 5a | 1 3pt
15p | 10r | 11a | 1 3pt pic.twitter.com/NHEUil7LBd
Thanks largely to Randle's consistent production, the Knicks have moved all the way up to fourth in the Eastern Conference standings -- behind only the Nets, 76ers and Bucks. If they hold that position, they'll have homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That's pretty impressive if you consider the fact that the Knicks finished 12th in the East last season with a 21-45 record. It's almost a certainty now that the Knicks will make their first playoff appearance since 2013, and with the way they've been playing recently some Knicks fans have started to think even bigger.
Randle hasn't done it all by himself though, as RJ Barrett has stepped up and provided some secondary scoring for the Knicks. He's averaged over 21 points per performance in his last five games, while also adding over six rebounds and three assists. Veteran guard Derrick Rose, who serves as coach Thibodeau's eyes and ears out on the court, has also provided some consistent production off of the bench for the Knicks during their recent run.
After their win over Toronto on Saturday, Raptors coach Nick Nurse had this to say about the Knicks: "They're playing like a team that doesn't beat themselves. They don't make many mistakes. Solid, physical defense. Low turnovers. They don't get shook up or get rattled easily. They got some really experienced guys. A lot to like on this team.''
Nurse's description of the Knicks is apt -- they're not the flashiest team, but they're solid and physical on both ends of the floor, and they're playing their best ball of the season at the right time. If they can continue to play like they have over the past couple of weeks, the Knicks could be a real problem in the postseason.