The New York Knicks are playing the best basketball in the NBA right now. The team has won eleven straight behind sensational play by superstars Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, and are showing no signs of slowing down as they roll towards the playoffs.
However, the Knicks are the oldest team in NBA history, and they have been ravaged by injuries all season long, most notably to their best players. Amar’e Stoudemire (knee) is out for the rest of the regular season, Carmelo Anthony had his knee drained a few weeks back and missed six games last month because of it, and Tyson Chandler is battling a neck injury that hinders his ability to lift his head and arms.
The Knicks also suffered losses to Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace, who are also out for the rest of the regular season.
Nonetheless, New York is playing its best basketball of the season. The team came out hot early on (18-6 through 24 games), but then tailed off in the middle of the long season, which is easy to understand knowing the makeup of the roster.
Those patterns lead to the question of whether or not the Knicks can sustain their recent resurgence. Anthony has had three consecutive 40+ point games, which ties a Knicks record set by (Anthony’s idol) Bernard King, and has played at an MVP level since he got the knee situation straightened out. However, once a player has his knee drained, it is much more likely to flare up again.
Will Anthony’s health be a question in the playoffs? New York can’t afford to lose its best player, especially if they hope to challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Just as it always has been, the Knicks’ success will be contingent upon the team’s health. If New York can remain healthy, look for them to contend deep into the postseason. If injuries flare up though, especially Anthony’s knee, the Knickerbockers could get bounced early on.