An unforgiving turnaround follows the Knicks' 103-101 loss to the Nets Sunday at Madison Square Garden in New York.
After the Knicks (4-13) fell short of the fourth quarter's comeback attempt against the Nets (8-8), the week's brutal stretch looms large.
Following the weekend's back-to-back games at MSG, including Saturday's 111-104 defeat at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs -- who snapped eight straight losses with the win over the Knicks -- second-year head coach David Fizdale leads his team into a daunting task.
Tough-luck losers in their past three games, the Knicks face an uphill battle to snap the skid as they get set to play four of the Eastern Conference's top five teams.
The Knicks get Monday and Tuesday to recharge before Wednesday's 7:30 p.m. ET game against the fourth-ranked Raptors (11-4) at Scotiabank Arena tips off the gauntlet. Friday against the fifth-ranked Philadelphia Sixers (11-5), Sunday vs. the second-ranked Boston Celtics return the Knicks back home before their head out on the road again for next Monday at the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks (13-3).
Fizdale, however, says he is not concerned about the looming spike in competition.
"I love it," Fizdale said. "I take 'em one at a time. I embrace the challenge. We've played all of those types of teams tough. We gave ourselves a chance to win in Boston and Philly, places like that. I don't feel like we need to be looking at that like that's impossible. We're going to take it a game at a time and just, again, continue to try to give ourselves a chance to win every night."
The Knicks schedule gets really challenging coming up- Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) November 25, 2019
David Fizdale: I love it pic.twitter.com/PAv4X9BoGf
Referencing road losses between Nov. 1's 104-102 buzzer-beating defeat at the hands of the Celtics and last Monday's 109-104 struggle down the stretch against the Sixers, Fizdale said that the Knicks can complete -- they just need to close out their games.
"You've just got to keep the right mindset," said veteran wing Wayne Ellington, who energized the Knicks with 12 points off the bench against the Nets. "We've got to come in every day and have the mindset that we're going to get better and those little things like that -- fouling guys and putting guys on the line so much -- those are areas that we've got to continue to focus and improve on."
Another experienced member of the locker room, center Taj Gibson expanded on Ellington's thoughts, adding that the two-point loss to the Nets -- despite the result -- shows how close the Knicks are.
"You've got to look at the circumstances that we're in," said Gibson, who posted eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in the start over Mitchell Robinson and Bobby Portis. "We're basically in the east. Nobody's running away just yet. Maybe you've got the top four, top three teams that are basically running away. We're still optimistic. If we can get three wins in a row, we're right back in the hunt. It's just about a matter of time, about actually getting a win. And people understand -- it's really hard winning in this league, especially when it comes down to playing against the best.
"Like I said before, we've got a bunch of new guys, some young guys. Everybody's still trying to figure out their strong points and figure out what can they do better. But everybody's out there fighting -- fighting tooth and nail. Tonight, I can live with that because I understood everybody's heart was in there, everybody's energy was in it and we had a lot of games like that -- we were really into it to the end and it's always the fourth quarter, late within the five-minute to four-minute mark where we have to execute better and we have to ... get stops."
"It's a tough, bitter taste for me because I've been in the playoffs my whole career" - Taj Gibson pic.twitter.com/azw47nNJag- Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) November 25, 2019