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Knicks ride J.R. Smith and grind out win, will survive without Lin

Posted By Michael Burke On Mar 31 2012 @ 11:14 pm In New York Knicks | 1 Comment

In their second game in as many days, and their eighth in 11 days, the injury ridden New York Knicks needed to find a way to grind out a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they did just that.

On a night dampened by the announcement that Jeremy Lin will miss six weeks, and possibly the rest of the season if the Knicks are to not make a decent playoff run, the Knicks sprinted out to an early lead and never gave it up, but also did not pull away until the closing minutes.

For New York tonight, it was all about just grinding it out.

J.R. Smith led the way for the Knicks, scoring 20 points, grabbing nine boards, and getting five steals off the bench. Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and Iman Shumpert each also scored in double digits, scoring 19, 14, and 10, respectively.

Despite the possible season ending injury to Lin, the Knicks’ still have unlimited potential. Had this injury news occurred while the team was playing under Mike D’antoni, it’d be a huge deal. But, right now, under Mike Woodson, it just is not a huge deal.

The offense under D’antoni was so heavily reliant on a point guard that Jeremy Lin being on the court or not being on the court was the difference between the Knicks being an elite team or a below average one.

Under Woodson, the point guard position is not nearly as vital to the success of the offense. As in any basketball offense, the point guard is still important, but the Knicks will surely be able to make do with Baron Davis.

This is no surprise, as virtually everything has been different under Woody. The team has gone from hardly giving any effort to playing nothing short of phenomenal defense, Carmelo Anthony is suddenly Carmelo Anthony again, and the team simply looks more like a true championship contender.

Even without Jeremy Lin, New York still has all the pieces in place—a good point guard in Baron Davis, a top five player and scorer in the league in Carmelo Anthony, another superstar in Amar’e Stoudemire, whenever he may return, one of the league’s best centers in Tyson Chandler, very good role and defensive players in Landry Fields, Iman Shumpert, and Jared Jeffries, and pure shooters off the bench in J.R. and Steve Novak.

The Knicks currently are up two and a half games on the Bucks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, and just three back of the Celtics for the division crown.

Essentially, the Knicks have two options that would be within their best interest: win the division and attain the number four seed in the playoffs, or make the playoffs as the eighth seed.

Why would they not want the seventh seed? One reason: the Miami Heat.

The Knicks have to avoid Miami for the first two rounds, and they will do so by achieving the fourth or eighth seed. The Bulls are somewhat of frauds, as they are nowhere near teams like the Heat and Thunder, and while they would not be easy, they are certainly beatable for the Knicks.

Jeremy Lin may be out for a while, but the season is not over for the Knicks. In fact, with the playoffs lurking, it has just begun.

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