The Knicks are the only remaining unbeaten team, but other than beating the defending-champion Heat in the season opener, they’ve feasted on also-rans.
If they want to flex their muscles and show they’re elite, they need to beat the next two road opponents — the Spurs (7-1) and the Grizzlies (5-1).
Put bluntly, New York still has a ways to go before the naysayers believe the hype.
Knicks’ forward Steve Novak admitted as much, saying that while the fast start is great, they haven’t done anything truly of note yet.
“We just don’t put too much stock into it,’’ Novak said. “We know we’re the only undefeated team and we hear all that, but it’s just so early, and we all know what a long year it is.”
Head coach Mike Woodson acknowledged his squad needs to do the little things to beat contenders like the Spurs.
“Road wins are tough to get, so you have to be really locked in and focused as a unit. You can’t turn it over offensively and you have to play at a high level defensively,” said Woodson. “All those things have to happen for us to be successful for us to win on the road.”
Prior to Tuesday night’s win over the Magic in Orlando, the Knicks had only ventured out from the Garden once, so they’re all looking forward to seeing where they stack up in a road trip that will feature six games in 10 nights.
The Spurs are their usually steady self, while the Grizzlies have been a matchup nightmare for opponents, including a thumping of the Heat earlier this week in Memphis. Both teams are almost identical in that they get stellar play from their point guards (Tony Parker for the Spurs and Mike Conley for the Grizzlies), both have underrated benches and role players and also have the ability to interchange parts like the Knicks — particularly on the frontline with guys like Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter for the Spurs and Marc Gasol and former Knicks’ forward Zach Randolph for the Grizzlies.
Knicks’ forward Carmelo Anthony, who has seemingly embraced defense almost as much as he has scoring, said he’s eager to see if his new-look team can slow down both the Spurs’ and Grizzlies’ offenses.
“We have to get up on them defensively, deny the passing lanes and play our style of defense that we’ve been playing for the last week,” Anthony said.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.