The Knicks’ last few weeks have turned Madison Square Garden into an infirmary ward, making the All-Star Break a much-needed respite.

The All-Star break is here and it couldn’t come at a better time for the New York Knicks. After starting off the new year with a bang that saw them shoot up the stands, a litany of injuries bombarded the Knicks’ roster, causing them to stumble and hobble into the mid(ish)-season break on an uncharacteristic four-game losing streak. They currently sit in fourth place in the East, 1.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks for the third seed, with the Philadelphia 76ers hot on their trail just half a game back. 

After going 14-2 in January, the Knicks jumped up the standings to secure third place in the Eastern Conference, even getting within a game and a half of second place, and were the hottest team in the league. In a victory against the Miami Heat on January 27, Julius Randle suffered a dislocated shoulder and has been sidelined since. The Knicks were able to keep their heads above water for a bit due to players like Donte DiVincenzo and the newly acquired Precious Achiuwa stepping up their game in the three-time All-Star’s absence.

All injuries are bad but for Randle, it’s happened at a particularly unfortunate time because it will force him to miss the All-Star game in Indiana after getting selected for the third time as a Knick. Right now there is no return date, though the Knicks feel optimistic he will be ready to return sometime in the second half of the season as they prepare for their playoff push. 

While it seems like Randle avoided total catastrophe with his dislocated shoulder, the injury bug wasn’t done biting the Knicks. With two-thirds of their starting frontcourt out, OG Anunoby, who made his presence immediately felt after being acquired from the Toronto Raptors, was also feeling a nagging elbow injury. Finally, the last domino on the frontcourt fell. What has been a masterful acquisition for the Knicks has become a little dampened – since February 8th, Anunoby has been sidelined as he recovers from surgery to remove loose bodies in his elbow. The Knicks hope to have him back shortly after the All-Star break. His current timetable to return is at least three weeks.

One of the unsung heroes of the Knicks season has been Isaiah Hartenstein. The first big injury for the Knicks was Mitchell Robinson. In late December, the Blockness Monster went down with an ankle injury and has been sidelined ever since. Early on there were murmurs that he would miss the rest of the season but after successful surgery, the timetable became between eight and 10 weeks. Into that time, Hartenstein has stepped up more than admirably in the starter spot having some impressive games for the Knicks in that span. Unfortunately, he also went down with an injury. The Knicks are currently without a true center available and it has shown. Hartenstein has missed the last three games, all losses, with left Achilles tendinopathy. 

It’s been a brutal stretch for the Knicks the last couple of weeks and to add insult to injury, no pun intended, they’ve dealt with nicknacky ones along the way. Fans and the franchise alike held their breath as even Jalen Brunson missed a game after a spraining ankle in a victory versus the Memphis Grizzlies. Fortunately, he was able to come back the next game and seems ready to attend his first All-Star Game.

The Knicks aren’t out of the woods yet as far as new injuries are concerned. DiVincenzo, who had been excellent filling in the scoring punch lost with Randle and OG, tweaked a hamstring against the Houston Rockets and was forced to miss the next game against the Orlando Magic before the break. The injury bug doesn’t discriminate; even the newest Knicks aren’t immune as trade deadline acquisition Bojan Bogdanovic joined the growing injury report with a sore left calf and also had to miss the game versus Orlando. 

The weeklong break is a godsend for New York because it will give the players a chance to recover and recuperate. When regular season play resumes, it’s all hands on deck. The Knicks have a chance to continue to fight for better playoff positioning as the race to the finish begins to tighten. 

 

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