The Knicks have clinched the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference with just a game remaining on the schedule. Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, Tyson Chandler, and J.R. Smith didn’t even travel to Charlotte, while Raymond Felton made the trip but saw no playing time.
This is what New York needs- throughout this entire season, the team has been destroyed by injuries to nearly every key player. The Knicks had nothing left to gain by playing their stars against the worst team in the NBA- a team that is 20-61 and is 45 games back in their division- so Mike Woodson made the right move in letting the bench players take on the Bobcats.
Behind a career-high 32 points from Chris Copeland, 17 from Steve Novak on 5-7 3-point shooting, and 8 assists from Pablo Prigioni, New York’s reserve unit almost willed out a win.
However, Kemba Walker (23 points, 13 assists) proved to be too much for the undermanned Knicks squad, which only played seven players.
In essence, it was a win for New York: no one was hurt, Copeland (who hopes to be in the playoff rotation) continued to produce, and the platoon squad kept it close. Yes, it was against the worst team in the league, but an NBA team is an NBA team.
Anthony, Smith, Felton, Chandler, and Martin will more than likely sit out again when the Knicks take on the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night. Some coaches, like Scott Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder, don’t believe in sitting players prior to the playoffs, but Woodson’s method depends on the request of the players for rest.
The Knicks’ stars all made the right move by staying home in New York. The team needs perfect health going into the playoffs, and if they can remain that way throughout, they will be one of the most dangerous teams in the postseason.