Let’s look at some good news for the New York Knicks: 1. There are eight playoff spots in each conference and the Knicks are holding onto that final spot. 2. Tonight they will play the Milwaukee Bucks with a chance to give themselves some breathing room. 3. Their remaining schedule includes: the Wizards, Cavaliers, Nets and Bobcats.
Now time for the bad news: Presently the Knicks are four and a half games out of the sixth spot. They are going to have to play the Bulls first round. All season long the teams in the East have known the last two to get in would have to play either Chicago or Miami in the first round. Hopefully they give out participation trophies.
The past two games the Knicks have played came against the Bulls and they saw two very different teams. On Easter Sunday they pulled out an overtime victory at the Garden with Melo dropping a cool 43 points. The Knicks have tried to find ways to balance their offense and ensure their scorers get equal touches, but so far this method seems to work best with Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin being off the floor with injuries. Some sided with Melo, others with Lin, but it seems they just can’t play well together. Melo reminded the basketball community that he is one of the best scorers in the Association regardless of what else may happen around him. Credit for this win doesn’t all go to Anthony however as Iman Shumpert continued his terrific rookie season making Derrick Rose’s return from injury a nightmare. The Bulls with Rose have similar, less pronounced, issues as the Knicks. When their secondary squad is on the floor they play an unselfish brand of basketball with plenty of ball movement that is difficult to defend, but when they have to appease multiple primary scorers they can’t seem to get it done. Last night the Knicks played in Chicago against the Roseless unit. They got spanked. The Bulls had more than 20 assists and Rip Hamilton went off in the second half making it a difficult evening for New York.
Ok the glass is half full. The Knicks play the Bulls in the first round with Rose on the floor. Shumpert has shown that he can defend Rose. The criticism of Chicago is if you take away Rose they don’t have much to support him. Clearly that isn’t the case because they have gone 16-7 without the reigning MVP, but when he is on the floor it looks like he is out there all by himself. Being optimistic let’s say Amar’e returns in time for the first round. Now they would have the Melo and Amar’e combination that worked so well last season with Baron Davis, who is gelling with Melo, running the point. They have a shot to knock off Chicago and escape the first round.
Realistically speaking I think the Knicks can take the series 6 games and make it competitive and entertaining. Mike Woodson has done an excellent job since returning by allowing players to use their strengths and skill-sets while challenging them to work harder on the defensive end. We knew going into this it would take some time for this unit to gel, but the Knicks are starting to play like a team at the right time.
Should the Knicks be optimistic judging by the split two game set with the Bulls? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.