Cruise control, autopilot, whatever you want to call it, the Knicks are in it right now. It’s difficult to single out the one player who has made the difference for New York, but the ‘Bockers are currently on a five game streak and now are only a half game back in the Eastern Conference.
Much of their success of late can be attributed to their easy schedule, which featured conference basement dwellers like the Kings, Pistons and Magic. However, that doesn’t change the fact that the Knicks are absolutely steamrolling their opponents. If you combine the largest lead of the game for NY in their past two contests (Sacramento and Detroit), you come out with a ridiculous 76 points. Now once again, both of these opponents will be sitting on their couches come June, but it’s hard not to have admiration for the destruction the Knicks have been doling out of late.
Of course if we were to point out a player on the Knicks who has been a cornerstone of their recent ascension, it would be hard to not pick center Tyson Chandler, who just etched his name into the Knicks record book after recording his third consecutive 20-rebound game—the first Knick to do so since Willis Reed in the 1969-70 season. His energy shagging rebounds lately might have been a result of a stern talk he had with head coach Mike Woodson who told his star center that he wasn’t playing at the all-star caliber level that he was capable of. Chandler is one of the last Knicks players I would ever expect to need a talk like that (JR Smith is, and will always be first on that list), but clearly the message was will received.
What Lies Ahead:
The Knicks are about to embark on a two game road trip with a stop in Washington DC to face the Wizards (12-35). While that record may look horrible—and it is—the Wizards have been much more competitive with the return of John Wall from injury. Even so, the Knicks have little to no excuses to drop this game.
They then travel to perhaps that only city where JR Smith won’t go out clubbing, Minnesota, to face the Ricky Rubio led Timberwolves (18-27). The T-wolves are actually one of my favorite western conference teams to watch. For anyone who hasn’t watched a full game of Rubio yet, I cannot try to sell you any harder. In my opinion, he is one of the most intriguing players in the NBA. Truly the only other NBA player with comparable court vision Rubio’s is Rajon Rondo (Clearly having the initials RR give you superior court vision). But once again, the Knicks have no excuse to lose to teams with sub .500-records—period.
The Knicks (31-15) must continue their dominance as they approach the all-star break. With their lineup at full health (not counting dinosaurs Wallace and Camby here), they appear primed to maintain their winning ways. As the second half of the season approaches, I’m most curious to see how the two remaining games against Miami go. The Knicks dismantled the Heat by twenty points or more in each of their first two games against the reigning champs. But that was then, and obviously whichever team wins these two games will feel a mental edge when the playoffs roll around. Thankfully, head coach Mike Woodson seems to know which buttons need to be pushed to key the Knicks to victory, and hopefully, to net them their first number one seed in the playoffs since the 1992-93 season; when they were coached, ironically, by Heat team president Pat Riley.