This Week in Knicks started with the team dropping an ugly but thrilling overtime game to their now-archrival Nets in Brooklyn. That loss was their third in four games and had fans wondering if the team’s 8-1 start was some kind of fluke. Lucky for the Knicks it was "Get Right Week." What’s that? It’s the kind of week you have when you are privileged enough to play the Bucks, Wizards and Suns consecutively. That went more or less as it should have: three wins that they won by an average of more than ten points a game. Those victories left the Knicks at 12-4 on the year and in second place in the Eastern Conference, sandwiched right between the first-place Heat and the Nets. It’s their best start since 1995.
Aren’t these the Knicks? Why are they winning? First and foremost, Carmelo Anthony is playing like an MVP candidate. Now an undersized power forward, he’s shooting 47% from the field and 43% from three and is averaging 26.5 points a game. It isn’t just that he’s scoring four points a game more than he was last season. It’s that he’s doing it faster, which means he doesn’t gum up the offense and allow the defense to bear down on him. He’s combining that with an increased willingness to share the ball and get dirty on defense. Point guards Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have put everyone in a position to succeed on offense and have scored when called upon. And Tyson Chandler is finishing almost every time he gets the ball at the rim. Thanks to Felton, Kidd and Prigs, that’s been often.
In addition, everyone seems to have bought in to the leadership of Coach Mike Woodson. Last year the Knicks played great defense and below average offense and were a middling team. This year they’re playing great offense and slightly above average defense and are a very good team.
Sure, the Knicks are playing great but isn’t there something we should worry about? There is always something to worry about, even more so when you’re talking about the Knickerbockers. Jason Kidd missed the whole week with back spasms. Marcus Camby has barely played, appearing in only six games for a total of 46 minutes. It isn’t clear whether that’s due to injury or an inability to crack the rotation (though it seems like it’s both). Tyson Chandler’s help defense looks a step slower than it did last season—the Knicks have had a rebounding advantage in only three games.
Raymond Felton also had an absolutely horrendous game against the Nets (he shot 3-19). One bad game is no big deal, but in his grudge match with Jeremy Lin three days before he didn’t have a great game either. JR Smith played well against the Wizards, but outside of that game he shot 4-23 this week. No one knows for sure what will happen when Amar’e Stoudemire gets back from injury, even if he is willing to come off the bench. And of course, every day that passes is a day the Knicks get older (they are literally the oldest team in NBA history).
Did Rasheed Wallace do anything funny this week? Not really, unless you’re a fan of getting ejected for saying your catchphrase (“ball don’t lie”) to a referee after you receive a questionable technical foul for karate chopping Luis Scola. That’s what fan-favorite Sheeeeeeed did against Phoenix on Sunday.
We'll give Mr. Wallace a pass for failing to do something funny this week for two reasons (even though what he did was kind of funny). First, his ejection gave us nine minutes of undrafted 28-year old rookie Chris “Avatar” Copeland brilliance that may never be seen again. Second, Rasheed’s been mouthing off to everyone, and it's only the first month of the season (after TWO YEARS of retirement).
Is there anything else I need to know about? Iman Shumpert’s hair is still insane. He looks like an extra from A Different World. You should also follow end-of-bencher James “Flight” White on Twitter. In the insane world of NBA tweets, White is a bastion of thoughtful reasonableness. He’s disappointed in the Cowboys, he wants to watch A Christmas Story, he works out every morning. Following him on Twitter is actually calming.
What’s coming up next week? The Knicks have one more cupcake game Wednesday in Charlotte against the
Hornets Bobcats. After that things get a lot tougher: they play the Heat, Bulls, Nuggets, Nets and Lakers, all in a span of eight days (only five of which are Chanukah). They might need another Get Right Week after that. If they don’t, feel free to call them contenders.
Written by Jonathan Fishner