After winning the season opener against the Miami Heat and taking a home-and-home series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the New York Knicks are off to their best start since the 1999 NBA season that saw them make it to the NBA Finals. It is not only the fact that the team is 3-0, but also the way they have done it.
After the postponement of the road opener at Barclays Center Thursday, the Knicks hosted the Heat, who they never trailed in a 104-84 win Friday. The Knicks then followed that victory up with a win at Madison Square Garden against the 76ers, 100-84 Sunday. The following night, the team earned its third victory in as many games with a 110-88 win in Philadelphia.
The Knicks have won their first three games by an average of 19.3 points, and have held their opponents to 85.3 points, first in the National Basketball Association (NBA) through the first week of the season.
Whatever the Knicks do this season begins and ends with Carmelo Anthony, who is off to a fantastic start. He has averaged 26 points through the first three games, which is what we have come to expect from the two-time Olympic gold medalist, but he is also averaging 7.3 rebounds a game. This is key because of the injury to Amar’e Stoudemire, as Anthony is now starting at the power forward position. More importantly, thus far, the all-star is playing a lot better on defense, and is leading by example. On Sunday, Carmelo blocked two shots and dove in the stands for a loose ball in the first quarter, a rarity for most of his career. If he continues his all-around play, then the Knicks could be a serious contender this season.
The leadership of Jason Kidd and the grittiness of Raymond Felton, the Knicks starting back court, has led to an unselfish style of play thus far. Felton has 18 assists through the first three games, and Kidd is showing the versatility of his game that has made him a future Hall of Famer. Combining two point guards in the starting lineup is not the norm in the NBA, but thus far, the move has paid dividends for the Knicks. At 6’4”, the size of Kidd allows Knicks head coach Mike Woodson to experiment with the move.
The New York Knicks look to go 4-0 on the season when they host the Dallas Mavericks Friday night. With former regular season Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki expected to be out, there is a strong chance the Knicks could open up 4-0. For the first time in quite some time, the Knicks play on the court is matching the expectations off it to start the season. If they continue to share the ball and Anthony competes on the defensive end of the court, this team may be able to match the feat of the 1999 Eastern Conference Champions.