In the Knick of Time!!!
Just 2 weeks ago the New York Knicks were 7 games out of 1st place in the Atlantic Division as well as being half a game out of the playoffs all together. Linsanity was said to have been dead and the Knicks seemed to be going into the same depressing direction that has haunted Knicks fans for over a decade. Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire were putting up career lows in all major statistical categories and no one on the team seemed to be having fun. On a daily basis, Mike D’Antoni looked as if someone was punching him in the gut every morning. Well the punches must have finally got to D’Antoni, because on the morning of March 14th Mike D’Antoni resigned as the Knicks head coach.
Mike Woodson, who was D’Antoni’s assistant coach all season, took over as the Knicks interim head coach. His first game was March 14th against the Portland Trailblazers and during that game something seemed to drastically change…EFFORT! There was a sense of urgency that had been missing for years and the Knicks seemed to care again. The Knicks went on to score their highest point total of the season, 121, and won with their largest margin of victory of the season, 42. Now, Portland is a team that has been, as my man Walt Clyde Frazier would say, “Stumbling and Bumbling.” This has been the type of game the Knicks were losing all season, so it was nice to see them dominate a game they should win. The Knicks then went on to win at home against the playoff bound Indiana Pacers. The following day the Knicks traveled to play the same Pacers in Indiana and won there as well in impressive fashion. In the most recent two games, the Knicks went on to dominate the woeful Toronto Raptors and followed that the next day with an important win in Philadelphia against the Atlantic Division leading 76ers.
5-0 and still rolling, the Mike Woodson lead Knicks look for their sixth win in a row against the familiar and pathetic Raptors. With upcoming games against the Raptors, Pistons, Magic, Hawks, and Cavs, the Knicks can definitely position themselves for an extended win streak and possibly something that has eluded them since 1994; an Atlantic Division title. This sudden resurgence that the Knicks have can be attributed to many things but the one common factor is Mike Woodson. Something that Woodson has done has completely changed how these Knicks are playing. In an interview Woodson explained that he hasn’t changed much of what they do on offense, just some defensive tweeks here and there. Whatever those tweeks are they seem to be working beautifully with the Knicks only giving up 87 points a game since his coaching debut for them. Amare Stoudemire has finally started to look like the guy we saw last year, when he electrified the Garden faithful with 9 straight 30+ point games, and Carmelo Anthony is starting to look like he accepts his lesser “offensive” roll with the team. Since Woodson has taken over, Jeremy Lin’s minutes have gone from 35 a game to 30 a game, but his average of 15 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds per game indicates that “Linsanity” is not over, it’s just changed a bit.
The Knicks’ bench has been one of the biggest stories since the start of Linsanity. The constant energy they all provide on a daily basis has made Knicks fans feel a confidence we haven’t felt since the 90’s. If the Knicks can keep the momentum they have built over the past two weeks going into the playoffs then I will be a happy camper. After the win against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Knicks pulled within 3 games of 1st place in the division, and Mike Woodson went on to say, “I’ve learned our guys are not going to buckle, I honestly believe that they think they can win every game now when they step out on the floor.” I hope he is right. Let us know how you think the Knicks season will pan out from here.