Three weeks ago, Knicks fans were talking playoffs, even as much landing the fifth seed. We all were raving about Amar’e Stoudemire and his sidekick Raymond Felton as the next Stockton-Malone combination. And yours truly even suggested that we call Denver’s bluff and wait until the summer to sign Carmelo Anthony as an unrestricted free agent. That was less than a month ago. How perception of the Knicks has changed in such a short period of time.
Has the perception or reality changed since the Knicks gone as cold as the city’s recent temperatures? The Knicks have lost six out of the last seven and some fans are walking around Two Penn Plaza with signs stating the End is Near. All of that optimism seems to be a thing of the past. It was bad enough that they lost two home games against two beatable opponents including a Phoenix Suns team they beat handily two weeks ago on the road. Then they went on that dreaded Texas swing where they proceeded to lose to Houston, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. That last game was particularly tough blowing a six point lead in the final minutes only to see Kevin Durant drill a three pointer at the buzzer.
They stopped the bleeding by beating the Wizards on Monday, 115-106. However, the celebration will be short lived as they will face the LeBron and Company later this week.
Folks, the sky is not falling. The Knicks are what their record says they are. If at the beginning of the season, someone would have told you that the Knicks would end up with a .500 record this season, most Knicks fans would have signed up for that in a New York minute.
These Knicks are going to win five in a row then they are going to lose six in a row. Then they might lose three out five and then win four out of six. Over the course of a 82 game season, that type of play will yield a .500 record, plain and simple. That is what you are going to get at the end of the day or, in this case, the season.
Consistency is this team’s main problem. They do not play defense for four quarters and their outside shooting is streaky at best. One minute they can’t miss from the outside, then, the next minute, they can’t make a shot if their collective lives depended on it.
It is hard to fathom a team scoring over 120 points in a game and ending up losing but these Knicks have accomplished that twice during this current losing streak. That just goes to show you that this team does not understand that you cannot play defense every once in a while or when the spirit moves you.
The bottom line is that until they add another consistent 15-point scorer and an interior defensive presence, they will continue to be a .500 team. Anthony would be nice but even if they can get someone like Shane Battier or Mike Miller, it will eliminate some of those offensive droughts. And how many times can we remember this season where a stop or two down the stretch could have been the difference between a win or loss, too many. That is where a big defensive stopper could have helped to block a shot or come up with a key rebound.
Team President Donnie Walsh did a good job overhauling the roster he inherited. I know many out there feel disappointed that Walsh did not land James this past summer, but at least, he has fielded a competitive unit. That is something we could not say for almost a decade.
Remember that Rome was not built in a day and that this rebuilding process is a work in progress. Better days are ahead. Those days just will not be next week unless Walsh lands Anthony before the trading deadline.