One or two weeks doesn’t sound like too long. But injuries and an increasingly tight playoff race mean every game matters for the New York Knicks. And in such a postseason race, a few more weeks without key players can make a tremendous difference. Presently, only 1.5 games separate the fourth-seeded Knicks and the eighth-seeded Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference.

The Knicks started off the year relatively strongly, and they kicked their season into high gear with a late December trade that landed them OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa. But then injuries happened.

Who’s injured?

New York Knicks forward OG Anunoby (8) dunks the ball during the second half against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to some less severe ones, three Knicks’ starters (as of January 1) suffered injuries and are at different points of their respective recovery process.

Anunoby recently began shooting the basketball after undergoing a medical procedure to remove a loose body from his shooting elbow on February 8 (although he has been out since January 29). Julius Randle dislocated his non-shooting shoulder against the Miami Heat on January 27, although he opted for rehab over surgery.

Isaiah Hartenstein missed two games before the All-Star break with a strained Achilles tendon that continues to hinder his play; Hartenstein told reporters after Thursday night’s loss against the Golden State Warriors that he “probably could have sat out a couple more weeks.”

And that doesn’t even include Mitchell Robinson.

Knicks’ recent struggles

The aforementioned injuries will inevitably impact how the Knicks’ season ends. New York has won only three of their last 10 games — one of which was a two point victory against the league-worst Detroit Pistons. In total, the Knicks are a -70 across their last 10 games. In that span, they’ve scored seven fewer points per game (106.1) than they’ve allowed (113.1). That’s obviously a problem.

Looking at more closely,  the Knicks allowed opponents to shoot 50.7% from the field in the month of February — up from 43.9% in January. They also allowed opponents to connect on 43.2% of their three-point attempts, up from 32.2% in January. So, they’re clearly lacking something, be it effort, stamina, or talent.

But it’s not just defense. The Knicks shot significantly worse in February (43.9%) than they did in January (48%), too. Their shooting woes should be remedied when their injured stars return. Anunoby (49.8%), Randle (47.2%), and Robinson (59.2%) are all above-average shooters this season.

Is relief on the horizon?

Anunoby and Randle could both return in a week to 10 days, which would greatly improve both their offense and defense — although nothing is imminent. 

But the difference between one week and one month are monumental. New York has only three games in the first week of March. Granted, every game is important. But while the Knicks can afford another three losses, they cannot afford to continue their slide through an entire calendar month.

New York plays 14 games in March, eight of which are against winning teams. For context, New York went 4-8 in February without Anunoby, Randle, and Robinson.

How much longer it takes for Anunoby and Randle to return will significantly affect the Knicks’ playoff seeding. And the notion that Anunoby returns from surgery and Randle returns from a dislocated shoulder successfully without a few games to get re-acclimated to the speed of the game is preposterous.

So, New York and its fans should pray to whatever deity they worship for a quick and seamless return. Otherwise, the Knicks could find themselves in an incredibly tight race for playoff seeding. And they could even end up with some do-or-die games in the play-in tournament — which no one really wants.