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Eighty-three days and counting until the New York Knicks can officially start wooing LeBron James to MSG in the heart of NYC.
For the past eleven years, 1999 being the last season the Knicks reached the NBA Finals, the revolving door of head coaches has been spinning (to the tune of seven new faces roaming the sidelines) as passionate Knicks' fans continue to ask, 'When will our franchise be saved?'
Neither Pat Riley nor Jeff Van Gundy will be returning to the Big Apple as head coach anytime soon. Yet, those were the men in charge of leading the Knicks to their last two NBA Finals.
The 1994 Knicks finished the regular season with a 57-25 record. After quickly dismantling the Nets in four games, New York huffed and puffed their way through back-to-back seven game series to reach the NBA Finals. Patrick Ewing met up once again with college rival Hakeem Olajuwon, who he beat in the NCAA championship game a decade earlier. The Knicks were forced to play seven more games against the Rockets falling in the decisive game by six.
Five years later, during a lockout shortened season, the Knicks made an improbable run to the NBA Finals. However, Ewing's age and ailing knees had caught up with him leaving him a benchwarmer in the series against the Spurs. The twin tower combination of Tim Duncan and David Robinson proved too much for the banged up Knicks as San Antonio cruised in five.
Whatifsports.com and Tommy Dee of TheKnicksBlog.com wondered which of the Knicks past two NBA Finals teams would win head-to-head. Using our award-winning NBA simulation engines we simulated the match-up 1001 times. The simulation computers generated winning percentages for both teams and their points per game average.
1994 Knicks vs 1999 Knicks - 1001 Simulations
|1993-94 New York Knicks||66.3||99.7||Boxscore|
|1998-99 New York Knicks||33.7||92.9||Simulate Game|
I'm resisting the urge to channel Meatloaf here. This head-to-head simulation favors the well-balanced '94 finals team over the Ewing-less '99 squad that was busy searching for somebody to replace him during the finals. Marcus Camby tried his best to fill the void, but was overpowered by a much younger Ewing and Charles Oakley in these simulations.
The 1994 Knicks won two-thirds of the time by nearly seven points per game. If you want, you may simulate the game yourself by clicking on the Simulate Game link within the table above. (Note: Patrick Ewing is in the starting line-up for the 1999 Knicks. We subbed him out for Camby in our simulations.) The example box score is one of the 1001 games "played" between the two teams and our guide to the following game recap.
Knicks '94 vs Knicks '99 Game Recap
Madison Square Garden was the place to be Thursday night as a sold-out crowd watched two of their finest franchises meet at center court. Patrick Ewing could have been shaking hands with an older, less athletic version of himself; however, he exchanged pleasantries with Marcus Camby instead. The two teams came up a short of capturing the Knicks' first NBA title since 1973, but on this night, it's not about titles. It's about bragging rights.
The 1994 Knicks led 4-2 in the early minutes of the first quarter when Ewing hit a fadeaway baseline jumper. It would be the team's only lead for the next three quarters. The '99 Knicks slowly started to create a cushion. With just under seven minutes to go in the quarter, Larry Johnson knocked down a jumper to put the 1999 Knicks up double digits. Five minutes later, Chris Childs connected on a three-ball pushing the lead to 17. The '94 Knicks crept back to trail by 15 after one quarter of play.
The 1999 Knicks applied more pressure on the '94 team in the second. It wasn't until three and a half minutes into the quarter that NYK '94 hit their first field goal. The team trailed by as many as 23 in the quarter. A balanced scoring barrage by Ewing, John Starks and Charles Oakley, cut the deficit to 18 heading into halftime.
It's just not the NBA unless the losing team makes a run. The '94 Knicks came out of the locker-room re-energized and ready to make this a ball game. The team slowly chipped away at the '99 Knicks lead by scoring from the inside and the outside. Oakley is starting to rack up the rebounds as he's well over double-digits by this portion of the game. By the time the third quarter horn sounded, the '94 Knicks have crept back to within single digits, trailing 75-66.
The frantic fourth quarter began with the Knicks scoring four unanswered points to trail by only five. When you recall that Pat Riley's club trailed by 23 in the first half, these Knicks are in striking distance. However, Allan Houston pushes Van Gundy's team back up eight with a triple-try out of the corner.
The lead hovered between five and eight the majority of the fourth until the final four minutes of the game. Hubert Davis sank a couple free throws to close within one. Then with 2:32 remaining in the game, as if the plotline had been written in Hollywood, Ewing finished a lay-up off a nice pass from Tony Campbell. The '94 Knicks led for the first time since the score was 4-2. Riley's team was as slick as his hair the rest of the way, never losing hold of the lead.
The 1994 Knicks rally back from 23 down to win 94-90 over the 1999 Knicks. As expected Patrick Ewing was the player of the game with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but Oakley was a close second with 25 rebounds on the evening. Camby did his part filling in for Ewing on the '99 team with 17 points and 12 boards in a losing effort.
If you want to take this Knicks scenario one step further, check out Whatifsports.com Dream Team feature . It allows you to load up your own NBA roster with your favorite New York Knicks of all-time. You can then add them to a SimLeague Basketball league to see how they stack up agaisnt other Dream Teams.
Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for Whatifsports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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