The New York Knicks are 8-2 and are tied for the best record in the NBA. After starting their season 8-1, they came up short in a comeback attempt against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. No doubt, Knicks fans are starved for success, as the team has not been on top of the basketball universe in nearly 40 years.
The Knicks own two marquee wins on the season. First was their opening game against the Miami Heat, in which they won by 20 points. Impressive for sure, but it may have been a fluke. New York followed that win with back-to-back victories against the Philadelphia 76ers and a few games later, won in come-from-behind fashion against the red-hot San Antonio Spurs, on the road. The Knicks were behind by 12 points with 7 minutes to go in that game. At the time, they moved to an undefeated mark of 6-0. After dropping their game the next day in Memphis to a well-rounded Grizzlies team by a score of 105-95, they then proceeded to blow out the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Hornets in bounce back fashion. Beating these teams that they are supposed to beat and avoiding crushing “let-down” games shows a crucial degree of focus the Knicks have tapped into all year.
If you boil down the Knicks historical start to one player, that player has to be Carmelo Anthony. And contrary to why you might think, it’s not because he’s dropping 35 a game. While pouring in a steady 25 points, Carmelo is also playing spectacular, assertive defense, which is crucial to success in Mike Woodson’s style of play. It seems as though the whole team has also bought in to the ideology: defense leading to offense. Additions Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd have been crucial to the Knicks’ prominence, as they have brought tenacity and veteran leadership in the locker room.
New York will finish out it’s road trip with their first meeting with the Houston Rockets and their old friend Jeremy Lin, which should bring about a ton of media and fan attention. But the real game I’m looking out for is the make-up of the hurricane-delayed season opener in Brooklyn. The Nets will have a real opportunity and should be hungry to knock the Knicks off their pedestal. Will the Knicks have the mental and physical toughness to compete with a balanced, well built Nets team? This will be the first test of many to determine which team will reign supreme in New York’s basketball scene and I for one am waiting with anticipation.