New York Knicks: 7 Most Anticipated Games Before the All-Star Break

Jason Radowitz@@NY_Sports_WorldContributor IIIJanuary 11, 2012

New York Knicks: 7 Most Anticipated Games Before the All-Star Break

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    Everyone wants to know if the New York Knicks have what it takes to win the NBA Championship.

    I have put together the top seven games that you should watch to know if the Knicks are actually legitimate contenders before February 24rd (All-Star break).

    If you don't agree with some, or feel like another game is more important, leave a comment and we'll debate!

No. 7 New Jersey Nets: 2/4 & 2/20

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    The Knicks actually play the Nets twice at home before the All-Star break on February 4th and 20th.

    Right now, I know your thinking, the Nets?!?!

    The Nets traded their draft pick to the Celtics for Marshon Brooks, who was selected 25th overall out of Providence. Now starting, he is averaging 14.4 points and four rebounds a game, with an outstanding player efficiency rating (PER) of 21.76, which is 26th in the league as of now.  

    His ranking is better than Rajon Rondo (28th), Dwayne Wade (30th), Chris Paul (32th) and Steve Nash (36th), all proven super stars. Right now, Brooks is in the top three for Rookie of the Year, but a rookie on the Knicks is also up there as well.

    The Knicks drafted Iman Shumpert, who also took over the starting role this season out of Georgia Tech. Though he has only played in five games, Shumpert is averaging 13.2 points, 3.6 assists and 4 rebounds per game. His PER is understandably lower than Brooks because of the Knicks "Big Three."

    Many Tri-State area fans are trying to figure out, who is the better guard, better yet, who has the more likely chance to become the Rookie of the Year?

    These two games will provide us with excitement from each of these two young guards and will really prove which rookie is better.

    Although the Knicks will probably win both of these games, it's safe to say, all Knicks and Nets fans will be watching.

6. Dallas Mavericks: 2/19

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    Last season, the Dallas Mavericks won the championship with help from Tyson Chandler. Now, as you all know, Chandler left the Mavericks to form the Big Apple's Big Three, making this game the first time Chandler plays against his former teammates since that championship.

    In the first week into the season, Chandler said he wasn't surprised that the Mavericks were off to a slow start.

    The Mavericks lost a few pieces since last season, including J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and of course, Chandler.

    It will be very interesting to see how the Mavericks take his comments. Are they OK with what he said? Are they frustrated with Chandler's comments?

    On Feb. 19, we'll find out.

5. Orlando Magic: 1/16

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    Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard are no doubt the top centers in the league. Watching them face off is like watching Shaquille O'Neal and Ben Wallace or Yao Ming face off. Those were huge games, especially for TV networks.

    Expect a defensive showdown on Jan. 16th, where both centers will go at it on the boards and try to stop the other from getting in the paint.

    There also have been talks Howard might be a Brooklyn Net next year, so this game can be foreshadowing the many rivalry games Chandler and Howard will play over the years.

    It's safe to say this game will be very exciting and a must-watch to say the least.

4. Los Angeles Lakers: Feb. 10

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    Earlier in the season, the Lakers dominated the Knicks by the score of 99-82. In the first half, the Knicks defense was nowhere to be found, giving up 63 points.

    "I enjoy going against 'Melo, because I always win," Kobe Bryant said with a grin after scoring 28 points.

    The Knicks have played much better on defense since that game, and are hoping to play a lot better, especially because this time they are home.

    New York and Los Angeles are probably the two top cities in the NBA (Chicago and Boston are close). Everywhere in the United States there is a fan of either the Knicks or Lakers. These two teams have a large fanbase.

    The Knicks want revenge on Feb. 10, and will have to play even harder with Andrew Bynum back from his suspension.

3. Chicago Bulls: Feb. 2

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    The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks had such a great rivalry in the 1990s. However, the Knicks became bad, Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing left their respective teams and there was no rivalry anymore.

    With the addition of Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, the rivalry is set to begin again. Both teams are looking for that NBA Championship, as well as other teams, and only one team can win it.

    The Bulls are known for their defense, something the Knicks are trying to develop. It will be cool to see how the Knicks respond to the Bulls' defense and how the Bulls will be able to stop the Knicks on the fast break.

    You don't want to be anywhere on Feb. 2 but on your couch or at the Garden.

2. Boston Celtics: Feb. 3

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    On Feb. 3, a day after the Bulls game, the Knicks will take on the Boston Celtics after a fantastic first matchup.

    In the first game played all year, the Knicks beat the Celtics on Christmas Day 106-104.

    It was such a good game that TNT received 5.9 million viewers, the most for an NBA telecast ever.

    Though not everyone that watched the first game is going to watch this game, quite a few will be tuning in to watch the new-and-improved Knicks vs. Celtics rivalry.

    The Knicks hate the Celtics; it's plain and simple. It's going to be a good showdown!

1. Miami Heat: Jan. 27 and Feb. 23

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    The Miami Heat compiled the Big Three by adding LeBron James and Chris Bosh to try to win a championship. Last year it backfired on them, as they lost to the Mavericks because James didn't bring the "fourth quarter" with him.

    Now the Knicks added their own Big Three, probably not as talented as the Heat's, but definitely more physically powerful.

    Everyone wants to know if the Knicks have what it takes to be the Heat, who are believed to be the beast of the East.

    The Heat are a thrilling team to watch, but the Knicks are quickly becoming more comfortable on and off the court with their teammates. The Heat already played one year together, and really want to win the championship badly this season. The Knicks are looking to get in their way, and will try to do so when they play the Heat twice before the All-Star break on Jan. 27 away and Feb. 23 at home.

    Anthony vs. James—that's what everyone wants to see.