The New York Knicks have clinched the Atlantic Division and the second seed in the Eastern Conference going into the playoffs. They will take on the Boston Celtics in the first round, with Carmelo Anthony looking for revenge after being swept by Paul Pierce’s team in 2011. Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire (knee injury) are the only two Knicks left on the roster from the 2011 team.
The Knicks are currently 52-27, and have absolutely nothing else to gain in the final two games in the regular season. The team has been decimated by injuries all season long, especially to the best players on the roster: Anthony, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, and Stoudemire.
For that reason, the Knicks should sit their stars until the playoffs.
Coach Mike Woodson has said publicly that the only reason he will rest players is if they request it, which Felton and Anthony have already said they will do. However, in addition to those two, Woodson should sit J.R. Smith, as well, if only for one of the two games left on the schedule. Smith has been sensational for New York, and the team cannot afford to lose him in the playoffs.
Chandler, Kenyon Martin, and Rasheed Wallace, who have all been dealing with injuries, are expected to be back by Saturday when the Knicks take on the Celtics in the first round.
Despite being largely unhealthy for most off this season, New York has been one of the best teams in the NBA. Imagine what they will do with a near-entirely healthy roster.
If Anthony, Smith, and Felton are all in perfect health going into the postseason- along with the return of Chandler, Martin, and Wallace- the Knicks should sweep Boston right off the floor in the first round.