The Knicks are absolutely rolling. Granted 3 of their last 4 wins has been the Kings, Magic and Pistons. But they beat the fuck out of those teams. Like by the middle of the second quarter those games were absolutely over. 2 more cupcake wins on the road with Washington tonight and Minnesota on Friday. That is, of course, if the Knicks are as good as everyone seems to think they are. Looking at a potential 7 game win streak as the host the Clippers on Sunday.
So here we are. 46 games in. Less than half the season remaining. 1/2 a game behind the Heat for best record in the East. Every other Knick fan out there has anointed them the champs basically. Acting like they’re primed to dethrone Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals come June. I’ve been skeptical. At times downright pessimistic. Stoolies seem to take this to mean I’m not a real fan or because I’m not blogging about average regular season wins I’m not watching. But its just being realistic.
I’ve been cynical, but they keep proving me wrong. I thought they relied too much on the 3 – we’re 46 games in and they haven’t stopped hitting them. Still worries me in a playoff series – just like a baseball lineup relying on big home runs, those can run dry at the wrong times. But they’re still shooting almost 40% from three as a team and the sample size is enough to convince me its not luck, its just their offensive strong point. I doubted their defense. Thought that early season defensive prowess was more of a fluke than anything. They’re still 6th in the league in points allowed. Mike Woodson and Tyson Chandler have successful changed the mindset of this team. Hopefully Shumpert gets acclimated and is that shut down defender they need to guard guys like Lebron, because thats the only thing they’re missing as a defensive unit. I was unsure of the point guard position. The offseason looked grim – Lin departs, an often out of shape Raymond Felton returns, old man Jason Kidd on his farewell tour, and some foreigner Pablo Prigioni didn’t seem any better than the days of Toney Douglass flailing around out there. Well over half way through the season the Knicks are running a type of 2 headed point guard system lead by Felton that turns the ball over less than any other team in basketball and averages over a hundred a game. And last but not least, concerns about Amare fitting in with this offense. Its a small sample since his return – but 14 ppg in 20 minutes at nearly 60% shooting is exactly what he needed to do after returning from his injury. He’s been able to add on and contribute without, for the most part, disrupting the team. Something that he’s never been able to do since Carmelo’s arrival. He’s still a bit of a defensive liability, but bottom line is he and JR Smith leading a second unit makes up one of the best benches in the NBA.
More or less every major issue from last season and seasons gone by with D’Antoni and Carmelo seem to have been rectified. They’ve created a high octane offense where Carmelo can be the dynamic scorer he’s always been, but without sacrificing the flow and contribution of everyone else on the court. Defense is no longer an atrocious Achilles Heel as it was in the past couple seasons. Point guard play is now a strength, not a weakness. And it appears that the major stars on this team can now co-exist. I guess for the most part most Knicks fans already drank the Kool Aid a long time ago. I think I’m just trying to convince myself to do the same.
PS – Never been excited to watch someone rebound like I am for Chandler tonight.