But that optimism appears to be waning.
Late Friday night, after the Knicks’ 23-point home loss to the Golden State Warriors, Anthony was asked if New York has the mental fortitude to make a run at the postseason.
His answer said it all.
"We're going to be tested, especially on this road trip right now. We’re definitely going to be tested on this road trip," Anthony said.
Notice, Anthony couldn’t give his teammates the benefit of the doubt here. He couldn’t, with a straight face, tell Knicks fans that his team has the wherewithal to overcome a monumental deficit in the standings.
And his honesty should be applauded.
The Knicks, after all, enter play Sunday six games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference with 23 games to play.
They’ll begin a three-game road trip on Sunday in Chicago.
"There are not going to be any easy games," coach Mike Woodson said. "So we got to go out and play and earn some wins."
Woodson took the opposite approach of his superstar on Friday. He continued to sell the idea that the Knicks could make a run at the playoffs after their no-show performance against Golden State.
"We got to still stay in the moment," Woodson said. " Like I told them in the locker room: You still got a shot at it."
This statement reveals one of two things about the Knicks coach. He’s either extremely optimistic or he doesn’t check the NBA standings very often.
Mathematically, the Knicks are still alive, but they face extremely long odds.
Since the current 16-team playoff format began in 1983-84, only two playoff qualifiers were five or more games out of the eighth playoff spot with 25 or fewer games left in the season (1996-97 Bullets, 2004-05 Nets).
Both of those teams, however, were swept in the first round.
The Knicks have a tough road ahead of them. They play 14 of their final 22 games on the road, including a five-game road swing.
"Somewhere along the line, we got to draw the line and figure out if we are really committed as a team and want to try to get into the playoffs. We can’t beg for help," Woodson said.
They can't beg for help, but they'll need plenty of it to make the playoffs.
The Knicks have lost nine of ten and five straight. They haven't showed that they're capable of putting together the kind of winning streak needed to catch the Hawks.
That reality seemed to dawn on Anthony after Friday's ugly loss to Golden State.
"I keep saying we've got to figure it out, figure it out, but it's time now where we should have it down pat right," Anthony said. "We shouldn't be in this position. But we've got games to play and there's no holding our heads [down] right now. Nobody wants to see that."
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