I’m never afraid to admit when I’m wrong, and in my NBA Preview, I rather emphatically suggested that the New York Knicks were doomed.
In fact, my exact words (which I will be dining on in this piece), were: “Carmelo and Amar’e are NEVER going to win anything playing on the same team. Never ever ever. Never. Never. Jason Kidd is NOT going to make these guys try on defense. Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler are not going to make these guys NOT quit when they fall behind or they think they’re not getting their shots, or whatever. Plus Amar’e has no knees. NEVER. NOT HAPPENING. NEVER.”
I may have overstated that just a tiny little bit.
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The Knicks have started the 2012-2013 campaign 4-0. I know it’s early, but these Knicks are winning games the way the old Knicks never did. And I know it’s a small sample size, but consider this: the Knicks’ opponents this season are a combined 12-1 (12-5 if you include the four losses to the Knicks). New York is hustling, playing defense, sharing the ball, moving without the ball on offense, and are being lead by a Carmelo Anthony I’ve never seen (or haven’t seen in a long time), who seems to care only about the final score and not about his final stat line.
It’s hard to imagine a more impressive start. The Knicks are +17 in point differential. No other team in the NBA is in double digits (the closest is Miami, whom the Knicks beat in the opener). New York is 3rd in points per game and (hold on to your hat) 1st in points allowed. What’s got into these guys?
Maybe it’s coach Mike Woodson, who took over the team as interim coach midway through last season and got the Knicks to play .667 basketball (18-6). Certainly someone has gotten into Carmelo’s head – the guy is playing out of his mind. There was a time last season where there was speculation that the Knicks would get screwed if they tried to trade Carmelo because he looked like such an albatross. Now he looks like the elite player New York thought they were signing when they first got him.
The last hurdle for the Knicks to clear will be incorporating defensive liability Amar’e Stoudemire into the lineup when he returns from injury. But defensive intensity is contagious, and Amar’e has never lacked ability on the defensive end, just the inclination to try. If Amar’e rejoins the team and picks up on the new attitude in New York, I think this team may have the juice to legitimately challenge the Heat.
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