The Knicks are smoking right now at home and sending a strong message throughout the league that visiting teams are welcome to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city, but forget about actually winning a game at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, now 7-0 at home, have turned the Garden into a true home court advantage. Since Mike Woodson has taken over the helm, the Knicks have an overall regular season home record of 18-1. More impressive is the matter in which these wins have been recorded. The 15.2 average margin of victory this season has come against some stiff competition which includes the Philadelphia 76ers, Indiana Pacers and even the Miami Heat.
After experiencing almost a decade of embarrassing play, the home renaissance under Woodson has been extremely enjoyable to witness and has brought back memories of a similar resurgence that took place 23 years ago during the Rick Pitino era.
The 1988-89’ season was all about the Knicks establishing the best home court advantage in the league and establishing an advantage is exactly what they did! Pitino’s 2nd year as head coach was highlighted by a high octane offense centered on a three-point attack never before seen in the league, accompanied by a full court press that routinely wore teams down by the 4thquarter. The Knicks, who were coming off some pretty lean years prior to Pitino had discovered their identity, and that identity was a Bomb Squad shooting team capable of beating anyone at home, evident by a franchise best 26-game home winning streak that season.
The correlation between this Knicks team and the 89’ team gives you the chills, when you take into account both teams qualified for the playoffs during Woodson and Pitino’s first year as head coach, both teams entered year two looking to establish a dominant home court advantage, both teams had a singular goal of winning the Atlantic division title and both teams had to overcome a division dominated by the Boston Celtics.
Although on the right track, the Knicks have a long way to go to match the accomplishment s of the 89’ team which would go on to finish the season with the most wins since the championship season of 73’. The 35-6 home record that 89’ team recorded is the standard our current Knicks team should be held to, if winning arguably the toughest division in the NBA remains the goal!
That 89’ team discovered during year two, the recipe for success in this league was home dominance, which resulted in a 52-30 overall record and an Atlantic Division title. Let’s hope this 7-0 start at home is the early stages of the next era of home dominance, an era of dominance that not only brings back shades of 89’ but surpasses it.