Nearly a third of the season is completed and there are many surprising teams in the NBA to point out so far. One of them is the New York Knicks. After losing just one game in the preseason, the Knicks took that momentum into the season and find themselves at the very top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 15-5. No one could have seen this coming, except head coach Mike Woodson who has done a superb job since taking over for Mike D’Antoni last March. Woodson has posted a winning record of 42-11 as the head coach of the Knicks.
Players seem to be comfortable in his system and enjoy playing for him. It is quite amazing what this Knick team has done so far despite being the oldest team in the NBA (31.6 average age). What this Knick team has that it did not have last year is a few veterans coming off the bench and being productive, such as Rasheed Wallace who came out of retirement after 2 years, Jason Kidd who has proven even at 39 his eye for passing is still top notch and bringing back former Knicks like Kurt Thomas and Raymond Felton. Let’s not forget, the Knicks have posted this winning record without Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who are both still recovering from knee injuries.
“This team is special,” said Carmelo Anthony, who is currently 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 26.8 points per game. Some people may look at the Knicks record and say well, what contending team did they really play? Lets not forget, this Knick team has already defeated the defending Champion Miami Heat twice this season and both by a margin of 20 points. So for now, it has been proven that this Knick team can be resilient when they want to and will give it their all against the powerhouse teams in the Eastern Conference. Another statistic to point out is their current record at home. lead by Carmelo Anthony and company, Madison Square Garden appears to have once again become a hostile environment for opposing teams. The Knicks are a perfect 8-0 at the Garden and with one more win, they will have matched the best home record in franchise history (9-0) since the 1993-94 campaign. “We must defend our court, we want opponents to know they’re in for a long night when they come here,” said Anthony.
So for now it’s nothing but smiles for the Knicks players and fans, but, there are many questions that still linger around the team. One being can they keep this hot streak going? Kidd is 39, Wallace is 38, Felton has not had good second-half seasons in the past, and as good as Carmelo Anthony has looked this year including a much more dedicated approach at the defensive end of the floor, he still needs someone who can contribute on a nightly basis and take the load off of him. From the looks of it, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith have the capability to help out with the scoring. Another question will be what does Mike Woodson do when Amar’e Stoudemire returns? Does he insert him in the lineup or will he be coming off the bench? Even though it is well-documented that “Stat” can be a scoring machine along side “Melo”, putting him back in the starting lineup may affect the team’s chemistry. On the flipside of things, it is uncertain if Stoudemire would even welcome a role coming off the bench. “In this team, some of the egos in the locker room have to take a backseat, that’s the only way we will be able to become champions”said coach Woodson. This columnist feels that Stoudemire’s days of playing 30 minutes plus is behind him with yet another knee surgery. He can still be a very important player have an important role if he comes off the bench.
Carmelo Anthony has bloomed well in the power forward position in the lineup, which is the natural position of Stoudemire. All these questions will soon be answered, but the biggest question of them all is what Knick team will show up come playoff time. We all know Miami will be better, Chicago will be better when Derek Rose returns, and you still have the teams in the East that are on the outside looking in like Indiana, Boston, and even Brooklyn. It is sure an exciting time to be a Knicks fan.
Sports Notes: (Football) Eli Manning and the Giants once again rose to the occasion last Sunday defeating the New Orleans Saints, in what many people said was a “must win” for the “G-men” with R.G. III and the Redskins breathing down their neck in the NFC East. The Giants have yet another tough task on the road this Sunday as they visit the Atlanta Falcons. Even though it is clear that the Jets will miss the playoff for a second consecutive year, coach Rex Ryan’s team is looking to finish strong. Currently on a 2 game winning streak, “gang green” will be in Tennessee in a Monday night match up against the Titans. (Basketball): a big test for the Knicks awaits them Thursday night as they welcome Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers to the Garden.