The New York Knicks have won five games in a row. Yeah, that team which people believed wouldn’t have any chemistry once two of their most widely used players came back from injury. Well now they do, and the Knicks are just a half of a game behind the Miami Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
For the second straight game, the Knicks held a 20-point lead at half time with numerous players having a chance to hold the ball and show what they’re capable of. The team is starting to develop chemistry which they haven’t had in the past, showing that Head Coach Mike Woodson is determined to get the Knicks back to the NBA Finals.
Offensively there are some cold players on the team, but Woodson’s defense has picked it up creating more offense over the past few weeks. During the Knicks’ five-game winning streak, they’ve outscored opponents by 77-points which has been led by Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith who have each shown they can now share the ball even when they have the hot hand.
Tyson Chandler also did something rather special for the Knicks over the past three games. Chandler had exactly 20 rebounds in each of the last three games, something only Willis Reed has done in a New York Knicks uniform. The outstanding rebounding effort has been a key addition to the Knicks’ game plan which they desperately need. He’s proving to NBA fans that his All-Star game selection is and will be worth it.
Chandler isn’t the only big man on the team that’s succeeding over the past few games. Amar’e Stoudemire is getting adjusted to his new role on the team and has made a large difference since his return from knee surgery. Against the Detroit Pistons, Stoudemire scored 20 points for the third time in his 15 games back since his injury. Since Stoudemire was placed on the bench to remove the possible spacing issue between Chandler, Anthony and himself, Stoudemire has become a leader off the bench and has brought the team much needed energy.
Raymond Felton, who also just came back from an injury, is the arguably the leader of the New York Knicks. In a post-game press conference, Woodson stated that Felton is like the team’s Quarter Back as he’s led the team whenever he gets the ball. Felton has shown to be a pass-first type of Point Guard. He’s making sure everyone on the team is contributing which is a key part to the team’s success this season. His all-around play on the defense and offense is one of the main reasons for the team’s recent winning streak.
Then there’s J.R. Smith. He’s probably the most inconsistent player the team has. One game he’ll rack up 25 points and the next he’ll go 5-15 shooting from the field such as what he did against the Pistons on Monday evening. Smith even shot an air ball at the free throw line. If the Knicks are going to make it past the first round of the playoffs, they’re going to have to make sure Smith passes the ball whenever he doesn’t have the hot hand. If he continues to shoot as erratically as he’s been, he could cost the Knicks a few wins and will likely cost him some extra cash when he signs his next contract.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.