Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Can you see the Knicks — if they even get to the postseason — winning a first-round series? Winning a game? Why (or not)?
David Aldridge: Actually, yes. Games. Maybe not a series. But the Knicks are built more for the postseason than the regular season. They have a guy that can post and isolate and score 30, and a second guy who can dominate inside in Amar’e Stoudemire and rebound. And I don’t care how many shots Chauncey Billups misses in the regular season; no coach alive is going to play off of him in the playoffs. That’s going to create space inside for ‘Melo and STAT. Now, if they give up 115 a night, they’re not going to beat anybody. But you saw Monday against Orlando that this team is capable of defending when it is engaged and focused.
Steve Aschburner: Beating the Bulls, the Celtics or the Heat in the first round? Not happening. Winning a game? Of course. None of the likely top three seeds in the East is a “super” team: Chicago and Miami as currently constituted will be going through a playoff series for the first time and Boston is dramatically reconfigured from any Celtics bunch we’ve seen in springtime. So I would expect New York to win a couple of games before exiting after one round. And my biggest gripe with the Knicks has less to do with ‘Melo and Amar’e playing nice together than with coach Mike D’Antoni’s denial of slowing things down for the postseason.
Fran Blinebury: There would be fireworks and headlines and lots of fun in a NY-Miami first round series. Maybe even a ceremonial re-enactment with Jeff Van Gundy holding onto somebody’s ankle. But the Knicks are still in the early phases of trying to sort out their chemistry issues and the Knicks sent too many of their complementary pieces to Denver. Good enough with the talents of Amar’e and Melo to win a game or two, but not a series.
Scott Howard-Cooper: They are getting to the postseason, and that’s coming from someone who has stayed off the bandwagon all season as the New York media hyped the Knicks into some superpower in the making. But no team that defends the way the Knicks do will beat the Bulls, Celtics or Heat four times within seven games. Each potential opponent has multiple scoring threats. New York is going to stop who exactly? Sure, the underdogs can win a game. Amar’e has a monster night, ‘Melo goes off. It happens. But just making the series competitive will be an accomplishment.
Shaun Powell: The Knicks are an incomplete team; therefore, why expect a compete seven-game series from them? Only in New York, exaggeration capitol of the country, would anyone anticipate something special from a team that surrendered much in the Carmelo Anthony trade. Basketball hasn’t wrestled April and May from the Yankees and Mets for over a decade in New York, and that’s not changing now.
John Schuhmann: I think they can win one or two games. The Knicks have beat both the Bulls and the Heat twice, and the Celtics are struggling right now. But come April 16, those top three teams in the East will be thinking championship. At this point, the Knicks are still trying to figure out how to play. Chicago, Boston and Miami are simply on a higher level than the Knicks, mostly because they defend. That will be the difference in the playoffs.
Sekou Smith: They should be able to win a game or maybe even two. But a series? No way. I have a hard time seeing it based on the way they have played since the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups into the fold. They have the firepower to get hot and make the opposition sweat a little bit. The Knicks just don’t defend well enough on a consistent basis for me to put any faith in their ability to upset the Celtics (the team they’d be matched up with if the playoffs started tonight) in a series. Same goes for the Bulls, Heat and Magic, the other three teams occupying the top spots and home court advantage in the Eastern Conference.