The New York Knicks came into this NBA season with high expectations after amassing 54 regular season wins last year, and reaching the second round of the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-00 season. The Knicks have been unable to match their success from last year and have struggled mightily for the majority of this NBA season. However, in a historically weak Eastern Conference, the Knicks playoff hopes are still alive.
For much of the NBA season, the Knicks have been in the basement of the Atlantic Division and the entire franchise has been surrounded in drama. Whether it was a rumour of Mike Woodson being fired, JR Smith playing selfishly, or Carmelo Anthony leaving for another team, the Knicks organization has been a soap opera this year.
Despite all of this outside drama, somehow the Knicks have clawed their way into a playoff spot in the East. After a 110-81 beat down of the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks moved ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. With a record 10 games below .500 at 33-43, the Knicks hold a slight edge in win percentage over the Hawks.
The Knicks signed Phil Jackson as president of basketball operations late in the season and perhaps that is what has them surging into the playoffs. The Knicks are now riding a three game win streak and have won 7 of their last 10 games. In a season filled with struggle, Carmelo Anthony has been one of the few consistent pieces for this year’s Knick squad.
Anthony is scoring 28 points per game and is second only to the Kevin Durant in that regard. He is averaging 38.8 minutes per game and has only missed 3 of the teams 76 games this season. Anthony is the teams main offensive threat, and has managed to maintain 41 percent shooting from beyond the arc, while also being the teams second leading rebounder with 8.2 per game.
Player to Watch in the Playoffs
There is no doubt that Carmelo Anthony can score, as was evident when he set a Madison Square Garden record with 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats. In the playoffs however, Anthony will need some consistent scoring help. JR Smith is known to be a streaky shooter, so Anthony will need some help from Amar’e Stoudemire.
Since his breakout first season with the Knicks, Stoudemire has struggled with a plethora of injuries and has not been able to stay on the court for an extended period of time. During the Knicks recent turnaround, Stoudemire has been playing well without overexerting himself. On the year he is averaging 11.6 points on 55 percent shooting, all while just playing 21.9 minutes per game.
A healthy, rejuvenated Amar’e Stoudemire playing alongside Carmelo Anthony in the playoffs may be exactly what the franchise envisioned when they signed the two stars.
How Will Their Season End
It was 15 years ago when the Knicks snuck into the playoffs as an eighth seed and made a run all the way to the NBA finals, before losing to the champion San Antonio Spurs. Do the Knicks have another magical playoff run in them?
Perhaps not all the way to the finals, but they certainly have a chance for some upsets. It is unlikely that the Knicks would be able to beat the Heat in their current first round match up, but if the Indiana Pacers take back the number one seed in the East, the Knicks are capable of taking down the boys from Naptown.
If the Knicks are able to knock out the Indiana Pacers, expect a surprise Eastern Conference Finals matchup between New York and Miami. In this year’s Eastern Conference, anything is possible.
NBA Daily is a daily series providing commentary, predictions, and analysis of events surrounding the NBA.
Commentary By Eric Kummel