The New York Knicks have had a mixed last few games. For a team that was being anointed a few weeks ago as one of, if not the best team in the league, they certainly have many problems that have been exposed. The Knicks had their first truly bad game of the season the Friday after Thanksgiving in Houston as they gave up 131 points to the up-and-coming Rockets. The Rockets are a team that can explode offensively but giving up 131 points is simply atrocious, especially for a team that, for the most part, has played fantastic defense.
After an easy win at home against the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks made the trip across the river to take on their new city rivals, the Brooklyn Nets. In Brooklyn, the Knicks proved not able to handle the Nets’ size down low as Brooklyn crushed the offensive boards and vastly outscored New York in the paint. The Knicks also gave up a lot of open three point shots, which players like Gerald Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse capitalized on. After the overtime loss, it was made clear that the rivalry is on. Both teams realize it, as well as both fan bases.
On the positive side for the Knicks, they still sit atop the Atlantic Division with a stellar 12-4 record. Carmelo Anthony has also continued his hot play on both sides of the ball, though he did miss a potential game winning shot against the Nets, his second this year. New York has also gotten scoring from Tyson Chandler, who has raised his season average to 12.2 points per game. He’s also chipping in nine rebounds a game to pair with his stout defense. On the injury front, Jason Kidd should return to the lineup this week, as soon as Wednesday. The Knicks also announced that Amare Stoudemire is targeting a Christmas Day return when the Knicks take on the Lakers in Los Angeles. His role on the team is still undetermined but if he buys into Mike Woodson’s system on defense, the sky will be the limit for this team. I believe he will start when he comes back but I will reserve judgment until we get closer to his return. Mike Woodson will certainly do the same and will look thoroughly at the condition of the team at the time of Stoudemire’s return.
The Knicks still have something to prove and many doubters to shake. If you are Carmelo Anthony, or any one of the Knicks players for that matter, you have to be hungry for this week’s slate of games. After taking on an improved Charlotte Bobcats team on the road, the Knicks head to South Beach to take on the defending champion, and rival, Miami Heat. Miami is undefeated at home and this would be yet another marquee win for the Knicks during this young season. New York closes out the weekend in Chicago against one of the NBA’s best defenses. We will know a lot more about this team after this week, and they will know a lot more about themselves. Their resolve, motivation and toughness will be put to the test in this extremely difficult road stretch.