In the two-plus weeks since the Knicks last won a basketball game, each passing loss has seemed more devastating than the last.
There have been some close and competitive contests, but when paired together, such a losing streak (currently at six) can appear rather daunting to climb back from. Is this team capable of making the bleeding stop? The more the losses continue to build up, the less likely it appears.
While New York may be able to take solace in the idea that they're making small improvements, head coach Jeff Hornacek has also questioned whether or not this team has what it takes to succeed, especially on the defensive end.
The defensive urgency hasn't been present. The absence of Kristaps Porzingis in the last three losses hasn't helped matters, either. Taking him out of the equation puts more pressure on Carmelo Anthony, and eliminates one major weapon floor generals Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings are able to utilize when attacking the basket and looking to create opportunities for the open man. Not many can catch, shoot, and subsequently knock down shots like Porzingis can in transition or the pick and roll.
If dissected individually, there have been positives from each loss. The Knicks have seemingly made improvements and come closer to winning a game with each nightly effort. But as a whole, coming so close and letting the feeling of frustration and failure set in has to have a negative impact on the team's overall mentality.
New York has free-fallen from a spot of solid postseason standing, and a playoff spot would be in serious doubt if they continue playing like this. This losing streak has them looking more like the pretenders of old, and much less the contenders of new many hoped they could be.
Is it the same old story? Is this team simply not built to compete? The challenge to prove the doubters wrong will be a a rather steep one on Friday. There's a lot at stake if the Knicks want to prove this team is different and has more of a winning makeup.
The bleeding must stop. In Wednesday night's game against Milwaukee, the Knicks squandered a 14 point lead. Their point guard, Rose, made erratic and careless decisions with the basketball with the game on the line. Appearing more like his dominant self early on, Anthony cooled off considerably when he was needed most. It was the closest the team came to a victory since Christmas Day and they let it slip away.
What's more, it only makes matters worse that the loss came at the hands of a buzzer-beating game winner. The NBA later said such a dagger should not have even counted, due to a missed five-second violation call on Giannis Antetokounmpo. When such a play leads to loss number six, it has to be tough to simply regard it as water under the bridge and move on.
But that's what the Knicks must do. They have a perfect opportunity to take control and get revenge on the Bucks on Friday. It's an early chance at redemption against a team that took something so valuable away. After crumbling on Wednesday, proving they won't be pushed around again so soon may go a long way towards proving the Knicks are more resilient than people think.
The opportunity is golden and as the Knicks look to prove this season and its team are different than those of a losing past, righting the ship sooner than later is imperative.