In what was undoubtedly their biggest game of the year up to this point, the Knicks rode Carmelo Anthony yet again en route to a 111-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, whom the Knicks now lead by a full two games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Carmelo carried the Knicks on the offensive side of the ball once again, scoring 32 points on 13 of 26 shooting, while also grabbing 10 rebounds.
Tyson Chandler was his usual steady self, scoring 19 points while making all six of his field goals and all seven of his three throw attempts, in addition to pulling down a game high 11 rebounds.
Four other Knicks scored in double digits, as Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Landry Fields, and Steve Novak scored 16, 14, 11, and 10 points, respectively.
Despite another poor shooting performance, J.R. Smith did hit a go ahead three pointer with just a minute left that turned out to be the game’s most vital shot, as the Knicks never again surrendered the lead.
Monta Ellis led the way for the Bucks, scoring 35 points on an impressive 14 of 25 shooting, while also dishing out 10 dimes.
With the win, the Knicks have to feel very good about their chances of making the postseason; they hold a two game advantage over the Bucks, and their three toughest games the rest of the way (the Heat, Celtics, and Clippers) will all be played at Madison Square Garden. However, New York should not and will not be satisfied with just making the playoffs; the Knicks have developed into a very good team that has a legitimate chance of making a deep playoff run.
Two months ago, or even one month ago, it would have seemed absurd to suggest that the Knicks could contend for a championship, but it is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities. The Knicks have as talented of a team as anyone, as deep of a team as anyone, as many star players as anyone, and have arguably been playing better defense than anyone since interim head coach Mike Woodson took over.
The Knicks have the league’s best closer in Carmelo Anthony, the league’s best defensive player in Tyson Chandler, and will soon have one of the best second offensive options in the league once Amar’e Stoudemire returns.
All of this, combined with the fact that their bench is one of the league’s best, leaves no doubt that this team can compete with anyone.
The notion that Amar’e Stoudemire will disrupt chemistry is borderline absurd. Amar’e knows he is not the team’s first offensive option, as he is all about winning. The Knicks played great with him under Woodson before his injury, so there is no reason they cannot continue to do so following his return.
For the Knicks’ sake, they ought to root that they draw the Bulls in the first round, if they are not able to either win the Atlantic or move up to the sixth seed. Why is this? Because the Knicks match up very well with the Bulls.
Other than the point guard spot, each member of the Knicks’ starting five is better than his corresponding member in the Bulls starting five–Shumpert is better than Ronnie Brewer, Carmelo Anthony is better than Luol Deng, Amar’e is better than Carlos Boozer, and Tyson Chandler is better than Joakim Noah.
If the Knicks can get past the Bulls in the first round, they can surely win a second round series before facing the Heat in the conference finals, and if they are able to reach that point they will certainly be rolling, giving them a chance to upset the Heat and represent the conference in the NBA Finals.
Yes, all of this talk seems like a lot of ifs, but New York does have a shot this year, something a Knick team has not had in a long, long time.
About the Author
Written by Michael Burke
I'm Mike. I'm 16 and love sports. I'm a Knicks, Yankees, Colts and Notre Dame die-hard. My dream is to cover the Knicks professionally, so I hope that PSB can help me reach that goal. Follow me on twitter: @michaelburke47