Posted by Daniel Kahaner on 27th February 2012
The first half of the season ended on somewhat of a down note for the Knicks, as they dropped 2 out of 3 contests heading into the all-star break. The Knicks went 8-1 before heading into the final stretch of the first half to get back into contention, but then sputtered a bit heading into the break.
Is it a coincidence that Carmelo Anthony returned to the starting lineup just before the skid began? The answer is unclear. But there is an entire second half to play, and we will learn what this team is made of very soon after play resumes.
The Knicks defeated the Hawks in impressive fashion before heading down to Miami to face the Heat in the first half finale, but stumbled down the stretch and often looked significantly inferior to the current number 1 seed in the east. They just didn’t look quite ready to take their play to the next level, but there is still a lot of time for them to do so, and they will have stiff competition to test them before the playoffs.
The Knicks open the second half of the season on Wednesday at home against the Cavaliers before going on the road to face the Celtics, the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Bucks, a five game stretch that could really tell the world what this team brings to the table. They then return home for one game against the division leading 76ers before heading to Chicago to face the current number 2 seeded Bulls.
This 7 game stretch is important both for the Knicks’ record as well as the team’s confidence. If the Knicks can manage to win 4 out of these 7 games, they will have survived their toughest test so far this season and could gain a lot of confidence heading into the season’s final months.
The schedule does not get a whole lot easier after these 7 games, as the Knicks will have to face the Pacers twice, the Bulls two more times, the 76ers, Heat, Hawks, Clippers, Magic, and Celtics one more time each before the regular season ends.
The Knicks will have to win the games in between against inferior teams in order to have a chance at being considered a legitimate contender this season, and will also have to win several of these key match ups in order to feel confident at a chance to do some damage in the post season.
Overall, the Knicks are in a position to make a run. The All-Star break provided a much needed break for some of the Knicks’ key players, like Amar’e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert, who have looked out of sorts at times due to the condensed schedule and increased frequency of big games. That being said, we will finally be able to see what this team can do with a fresh slate, a healthy team, and a formidable schedule the rest of the way.
Tags: Amare Stoudemire, Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Iman Shumpert, Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs
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