The Season Begins (or Ends) Now For Kansas City
- By Joe Simpson, Day 77, 2022
The Kansas City Knights are about to go through a gauntlet few teams will have to endure this season.
The Knights (27-11) start their stretch tonight in Philadelphia, where they face the Atlantic leading Warriors (27-9). They will then return home for a tilt tomorrow with the Scorpions (31-8), owners of the league’s best record.
The two teams have split the two games already played between them this year; The Knights beat the Scorps 117-101, back on Day 20, while the Scorps took a 98-93 victory on Day 53.
After two days off, the Knights will embark on a three-game road trip. The first team they will face is Dallas (14-23), who the Knights beat 104-85 on Day 64. The next day, they will be in Seattle, where they suffered a 113-101 to the Thunder (27-10) loss just two weeks ago.
From there, they will take two days and travel to Los Angeles, where the Fireballs (21-15) are in a dogfight in the Pacific.
Following a quick trip home to face Denver (17-19), the Knights head back out for three more on the road, for games in Atlanta (21-16, and a rare win in Kansas City), Baltimore (6-31), and Toronto (26-9). The home game against the Dragons is akin to stopping at home because one forgot their lunch.
The Knights are doing this two men down. PG Curtis Price will be out for another month and a half with a torn ACL, while backup big man Juan Maurice will be out for another 3-4 weeks with a broken hand. Tarvis McWilliams has been seeing time at the 4, and Aaron Honeycutt the 1, as the Knights have not found anyone they will to bring onto the team in their absences.
Realistically, the Knights could be looking at a freefall back into the heart of the Western Conference playoff race, rather than looking at it from above the fray. Quick predictions for their run:
Warriors 96, Knights 92
Knights 114, Scorpions 107
Knights 103, Predators 98
Seattle 115, Knights 96
Fireballs 105, Knights 101
Knights 115, Dragons 103
Devils 109, Knights 106
Knights 110, Bullets 97
Huskies 102, Knights 93
That is a 4-5 stretch, and that is the best-case scenario. At the end of this, the Knights may be sitting 31-16. Houston is 29-6, and about to embark on their own difficult stretch (five of their next seven are on the road, including trips to winning clubs in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago, and Las Vegas). Still, the Lightning might be, up and down, the best team in basketball.
The point: as this critical stage of the Knights season takes off, the fate of the Midwest could be decided by the end of it.
That makes the Knights’ decisions with their roster over the next two weeks precarious, at best. What happens when McWilliams gets taxed by his new responsibilities? What happens when Rahmond Thompson, the current up-and-coming starter at the 4, gets tired? (He has on a few occasions this year). What happens when Honeycutt, who has been Jack Everyman in the backcourt this year, needs a breather? What happens if someone else gets hurt? Craig Leonard has been abysmal as the backup guard, but the Knights cannot find another. Will they risk giving up a future draft pick, or potential cap space next season, as well as a disruption of their locker room, in dealing Price for help this season?
The Knights are playing on razor thin margins.
May the gauntlet begin.