Shaquille O’Neal unfazed by Knicks winning streak, doubts they can get out of 1st round of playoffs

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal is not impressed with the New York Knicks’ seven-game winning streak.

The Knicks, who take on the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, have climbed all the way to the No. 6 seed in the East with a 17-13 record.

It’s hard to blame O’Neal for thinking that the Knicks can’t make it past the first round of the playoffs, as the team doesn’t have a true superstar on the roster.

Still, Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett have played well for the team lately, and it’s propelled them on this winning streak.

The Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers in their last game, and they have taken down other teams in the playoff picture on this run. New York has wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks during the seven-game streak.

Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau made a major change to his rotation recently, and it’s helped the Knicks improve on defense.

The team has risen to ninth in the NBA in defensive rating this season.

Thibodeau removed guard Derrick Rose and wing Cam Reddish from the rotation in favor of more minutes for Quentin Grimes and second-year guard Miles McBride.

The Knicks have responded with a winning streak, and the team is showing that it can compete with other playoff teams after a slow start.

New York was the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference during the 2020-21 season, but it was knocked out of the first round in five games by the Hawks. It’s possible that exit is part of the reason why O’Neal isn’t high on the Knicks right now.

The addition of Brunson in free agency this past offseason has given New York a steadying presence at the guard position, and he’s played at an All-Star level so far in the 2022-23 campaign.

Brunson is averaging 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game while shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc.

The Knicks have three games this week before a Christmas Day showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers.

It will be interesting to see how long this group keeps this win streak going, especially with the Warriors and Toronto Raptors on the schedule Tuesday and Wednesday night.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.