The New York Knicks seemed to be setup to finish in the top four in the Eastern conference. Expectations are as high as they've been in over a decade with the additions of Carmelo Anthony last February and Tyson Chandler last month.
The main reason for the Knicks' struggles over the last 10 years was defense and rightly so. They've been a very poor defensive team who can't stop teams in the paint and get timely fourth quarter stops.
As a result, the Knicks acquired Chandler from the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. So far, defense hasn't been the main issue. In fact, stats over the first five games show improvement from years past as the Knicks have allowed 95.4 points per game. That's better than the 110 points per game they're used to giving up.
So if the Knicks have held teams to under 100 points in each of the last four games, how can they only be 2-3? Well if a team is going to attempt 35 three-pointers in a game, that's a reason.
That's the amount of threes the Knicks attempted in their 90-85 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night at the Garden. It seemed that the Knicks only wanted to shoot threes and were either too lazy to drive to the basket or just didn't care.
Of course Amare Stoudemire has been sidelined the last two games, but the Knicks did put up 114 points on the Sacramento Kings on Saturday without him.
Carmelo Anthony has done his job for the most part, scoring in clutch situations but the entire offense can't just run through him. In Miami, both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade contribute and so far, Stoudemire in the three games he played has been slightly above average.
Toney Douglas hasn't been the complete disaster many predicted he'd be in his first year as starting point guard but the bench hasn't done much to help him. Mike Bibby looks shot like many predicted when the Knicks signed him. Perhaps things will change once Baron Davis is ready to play. Perhaps the Knicks will get a spark once rookie Iman Shumpert returns to the rotation from injury as early as their next game Wednesday night.
The bottom line is, if the defense was going to ever get better, the team was supposed to be competing with Chicago and Miami according to some. So far, the defense has gotten better but the offense is sputtering and in a shortened season, it better correct itself fast.