After a tough stretch of games in which they have lost 10 of 18, including a loss to the Philadephia 76ers that saw them trail by as many as 29, the New York Knicks won a tough game against the Atlanta Hawks Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Now, beginning Wednesday, they begin a streak that sees them play five of six games against opponents with under .500 records, including the next four at home. Raymond Felton, who returned to the team on Saturday, discussed the upcoming stretch and it’s importance. “We got a stretch of four or give games at home and we’re trying to win all of them. All of these games are big games for us coming up to the All-Star break, and we want to get as many as possible, if not all.”
With the Knicks close to being healthy, (Iman Shumpert returned in London, and Amar’e Stoudemire has 10+ games under his belt, and Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are expected back soon), look for the team to get hot and feast on the bottomfeeders. Stoudemire discussed the keys to the success of a player’s return. “It’s a matter of getting rhythm back. Experience is the best teacher. The more I’m out there the better…I am just trying to take my time and progress as the games build up.”
Knicks all-star center Tyson Chandler also talked about how Felton’s return makes the team better and about his improvement. “He’s going to get better and better game by game. It was good having his penetration out there. He makes everyone on the floor better.”
The true tests for the Knicks, however, will come when they face the better teams in the NBA. The Knicks travel to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves a week from Friday, then host the Los Angeles Clippers, a team with a better record than any in the Eastern Conference, a week from Sunday. TheHow they prosper against the weaker teams, and how they fare against the tougher ones, will give us a clue into what type of team we should expect to see during the second half of the season and into the playoffs.