Knicks Follow Up 4 Game Losing Streak With 4 Straight Wins, Officially Playoff Bound
The Knicks last 8 games pretty much sum up their entire season to this point. Against Golden State, Portland, Denver, and Los Angeles, the Knicks looked completely incapable of playing professional basketball. Albeit those are good teams, and 3 of those 4 are headed to the playoffs in the West, the Knicks closest loss was 13 points. In their next 4, it was a complete turnaround. The Knicks got past Utah, Orlando, and Toronto twice to clinch their second consecutive playoff berth. Fans should be content with the victories, but understanding that the level of competition in those games was sub par at best.
The Knicks only have 14 games left this season, with a schedule that could give them serious problems. The Knicks play the Celtics and Hawks twice, and the Thunder and Heat once. Just among those games, I could see 4-5 losses. The Knicks hot play of late has put them comfortably ahead of the Nets in the division, but the Pacers could still usurp the Knicks for that coveted 2 spot in the East. With a 2 or 3 seed, the Knicks would not have to see the Miami Heat until the Conference Championship at least. A 2 seed would give them Home Court if they play the Pacers, an advantage the Knicks would need if they hope to defeat Indiana in a 7 game series.
Carmelo Anthony has returned for the Knicks and looks about as healthy as possible. He's made it clear that his knees will be an issue this season, but the Knicks just can't afford having him out of the lineup. Jason Kidd has gone through a resurgence of late, finding his shooting stroke. After Kidd met with his old shooting coach before a game against the Clippers, Kidd has been on fire from 3 point range. If Kidd can keep up his hot shooting hand, he'll be a huge asset to the team. Kenyon Martin appears to be a revelation for the Knicks. Playing for significantly less money than he would've got in his prime, K-Mart has filled a defense and rebounding need for the Knicks.
Hopefully, Tyson Chandler will be able to return to the Knicks' lineup Tuesday against the Celtics. Chandler has been dealing with a neck injury this past week. The Knicks don't want to rush him back and risk losing him for the year, but their defense is completely different with Chandler on the court than with him out.
The game in Boston will be a good benchmark for the Knicks. The Celtics are a potential first round matchup for the Knicks, and New York has to prove they can beat some good teams from the East en route to the Playoffs.