Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, and the New York Knicks managed to reach the Conference Finals in the 1999-2000 season, where they lost to the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers in six games. Since that season 13 years ago, the Knicks haven’t won a single playoff series.
The Knicks made the playoffs twice from 2001-2010, and this year marks New York’s third consecutive trip to the NBA Playoffs. Led by MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are looking to make it a memorable playoff experience this time around. New York’s regular season winning percentage has increased by .147 over the last three years, and their improvement led them to finish the year with an encouraging 54-28 record. That said, expect an entry into the second round.
But what exactly has changed to make us believe the Knicks can move on to the next round? Well, it’s simple: they’re finally playing team basketball. The team isn’t made up of individuals like it used to be. The adjustments that the front office and players made have certainly worked.
Adding ten-time all-star, Jason Kidd, has solidified the team’s chemistry. J-Kidd’s 40-year-old body isn’t in the same shape it used to be. However, his basketball IQ is still present. He gives New York a positive mindset that has brought them to where they are right now.
Anthony is another man that is responsible for this turnaround. Melo and Kidd probably held some sort of meeting at the beginning of the season, and that meeting has steered the team in the right direction and kept them on track. It is nice to see that the Knicks have finally put the pieces together, and Anthony and Kidd deserve credit.
Head Coach Mike Woodson also deserves credit. Woodson’s defensive-minded style is beneficial to the Knicks, while still giving players a reasonable amount of freedom on offense. Woodson is okay with his guys playing loose as long as they are consistently putting the ball in the basket. Woodson is a low-drama guy and has been able to tolerate the star players on the team.
But the Knicks’ solid defense all starts with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. His presence makes opposing players fear taking the ball to the basket, forcing teams to settle for low-percentage outside jumpers. Chandler really proved himself to the league when he won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
The Knicks clearly look more motivated and driven to be successful now. Players such as J.R. Smith have emerged and become key factors. The team is putting in substantial effort on defense, whereas it looked like they were playing casual basketball last year. This Knicks team is hungry for a playoff win, and is playing with the swagger to back that up.
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