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Knicks finally figured out who they are… but is that enough?

Apr 27, 2012, 11:13 AM EDT

New York Knicks' Anthony and Lin celebrate beating Orlando Magic in their NBA basketball game in New York Reuters

The Knicks tried on more identities than a 14-year-old Upper West Side girl this season.

They started the season as a seven seconds or less running team, but that didn’t really work without a point guard. Then they were the Linsanity team where that system did work with a bunch of shooters and Jeremy Lin driving against bad defenses. Then they tried the drama queen team where everyone — mostly you, Carmelo — seemed to pout and not play well because they didn’t get enough touches in the system and were asked to play team ball.

Then they tried out being an isolation-heavy, defense focused, lots of Carmelo Anthony team…

And it fit. It worked.

Mike Woodson has gotten the Knicks to play good defense, he’s running the offense heavily through ‘Melo, and they are 18-6 under him. (They had 18 wins under Mike D’Antoni, too, they just had 24 losses.)

It’s been a roller coaster year, but now with an identity and style that fits them, the Knicks are a good team. A tough out. The next question is, how far can they go?

The problem is the obstacle in front of them — the Miami Heat. Miami has its own collection of stars, a bigger and brighter constellation than has been assembled in New York. A Heat team more practiced and secure in its identity and that tends to lead to better execution.

But more than that it’s a style question — the Heat are the best isolation defense in the NBA. Teams shoot just 33.7 percent and score a sad 0.72 points per possession on isolation sets against the Heat (via Miami’s defense is custom made to stop New York. The Knicks will need a hot hand from J.R. Smith and Steve Novak and real ball movement to get open looks to score enough against the Heat.

I can see that happening for a game or two, but four out of seven?

Still, the Knicks have found a coach that gets through to the team and an identity that works. They have made real strides the last 24 games of the season. The question is, will James Dolan bring that coach and team back for next season, or will he bring in a new coach and a new identity to try out? Like one more triangular?

  1. illegalblues - Apr 27, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I have a feeling JR Smith is going to lose the series for em.

  2. charlutes - Apr 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I still think the Knicks won’t do well in a playoff atmosphere. 1 or 2 bad breaks and I can see them unraveling pretty quickly

    • gmen4life33 - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      Yup, like vs BOS last year, 2 horrible calls in game 1 (offensive foul on Melo, followed by no call on clear moving pick by KG for Allen 3) and after that it was a wrap.

      As a Knicks fan I agree that if early in the series the refs give Wade/James the “I tripped over my own foot, but screamed and flared my hands so it must be a foul”. that the series will be over quick.

      But, if that doesnt happen, and Knicks can steal 1 out of 2 to start, its going 7. 1999…..

  3. allball23 - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    At least they will win a couple of playoff games this year. Next year look out for the Knicks

    • kinggw - Apr 27, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      Isnt that what yall said last year?

  4. jaredo10 - Apr 27, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    i smell an upset in this seris, but then agian with the Knicks depth its really not an upset

    • Kurt Helin - Apr 27, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      God I love Knicks fans.

  5. starks3 - Apr 27, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Remember 1999,,,,,,,,,

  6. dysraw1 - Apr 27, 2012 at 2:07 PM

    well i been calling them the give em hell crew especially since Woody took over

  7. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 27, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    If we play 5 on 8, we have no shot, maybe steal a game or TWO max. If the refs call the game like Joe Crawford’s crew did vs. LAC (i.e. NOT giving the Slippers those flop calls at all during the game), then the Heat are in trouble. They will have trouble scoring just as much as you claim the Knicks will struggle to score on Miami, Kurt. After all, they only have three guys who can score consistently.

    The Knicks will be wise to just let LeBron OR Wade score (likely Shump, Fields and JR will rotate in defending Wade) and Tyson or Stoudemire will cancel out anything Bosh does. Close out on Chalmers, Battier, Miller and Jones and none of them does anything else offensively. The Knicks have five guys who can score 20. The Heat (at least in THIS series) only have two, unless the fouls come galore for Bosh and all his flopping when he can’t handle the guy defending him.

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