A little while back, amid the insanity of Linsanity, I cautioned against getting to high about the run the New York Knicks were on. After all, Carmelo Anthony was still out, there was talk of Baron Davis at the point guard and there was a hole at the two guard position. Even then, I expressed that the biggest problem was then coach Mike D’Antoni, who throughout his career has had trouble managing a rotation. When Anthony returned and the team signed gunner JR Smith, the team floundered to the point the D’Antoni has been canned. So is this latest five game winning streak in New York under interim coach Mike Woodson different? Or are they just around the corner from an extended losing streak?
There are some signs that point to this being a more legitimate revival than the original burst of Linsanity caused by Jeremy Lin’s incredible run. If they are going to right the ship, now is a good time to be on a hot streak. The goal should be to close strong and focus on the playoffs.
First positive sign is that Carmelo Anthony, who should be the Knicks best player, is a part of this run and he is not watching it while getting over an injury like last time. He seems happy and is contributing, and though I especially loathe petulant prima donna stars like Anthony, the Knicks really do need him to be a part of whatever run they are going to make.
Another positive is the play of Jeremy Lin. After his initial blast off, Lin has come back down to earth, but he is averaging 14.9 points and 6.3 assists as of right now. Let’s just say that if the Lakers get that type of production from Ramon Sessions who they traded for in hopes of a point guard upgrade, they will not be able to stop Jerry Buss from touching himself under his desk.
And then there is coach Mike Woodson. Woodson was head coach of the Atlanta Hawks for six seasons, and he crafted a bunch of too young top draft picks with a lot of issues into a solid playoff team. This Knicks team has headed towards dysfunction several times this season, but they are more experienced and tested than those young Hawk teams ever were. It is clear that Woodson has this team’s buy in for now, and that is without changing a great deal of the pick and roll based system the Knicks employ.
Another factor is the slide of the 76′ers and Celtics. The Knicks right now are within striking distance (3 games) of being atop the division and a lock for home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. This should be very motivational for a team whose one and done performance last year in the playoffs looked bad.
The Knicks bear watching in the next week to ten days – if they do not falter and start to come apart at the seams, we may be seeing the formation of a team that could surprise and get to the second round of the playoffs. When you are talking NY Knick basketball over the recent past, that is something incredible to cheer about.