The team currently sports a 19-24 record and finds itself on the outside of the playoff race by virtue of only a tiebreaker.
That's the good news. The bad news is that 12 of their remaining games are on the road, and 15 of the remaining 23 are against teams currently in the playoffs.
Turns out the "home stretch" isn't very hospitable at all.
It's the ideal scenario for a player to step up and assume the role of "go-to player." It's the perfect time for a team to be able to lean heavily on an individual star who can come through consistently against the league's best competition.
In other words, the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony to be exactly what he came advertised as when they dealt for his services in February 2011.
Can Carmelo Anthony go from a guy who seemed to not fit into the system his previous coach employed to "the man" in New York?
This isn't asking too much of Carmelo Anthony, either.
As of now with regards to this season, Carmelo Anthony doesn't need to lead the Knicks to an NBA Championship. He just needs to get them to the playoffs.
The weight of leading the Knicks back to postseason glory is there, but the bar for this season has been lowered.
The smart money is on Carmelo taking advantage of that, too. The Knicks' roster really isn't bad. The Knicks weren't a team that entered yesterday's NBA Trade Deadline desperately needing to fill gaping holes on their roster.
They've got guys who can run the point in Baron Davis and Jeremy Lin. They've got size and even some defense in the low post in the form of Tyson Chandler. In case no one noticed the other night against Portland, the Knicks have a few guys named J.R. Smith and Steve Novak who can provide some instant offense off the bench. They can also force defenses to extend to the three-point arc, which frees up more room for dribble penetration and low-post entry passes.
Who might benefit from low-post entry passes and space to drive toward the basket?
Carmelo Anthony, that's who.
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He's going to utilize his leading scorers, myself and Carmelo (Anthony), make sure he takes advantage of every opportunity on the court, Stoudemire said after practice. (according to Amar'e Stoudemire via the New York Post, 3/15/12)
One can debate whether or not Carmelo Anthony shooting the ball frequently will lead the Knicks to postseason glory, but as a player who has made the postseason every year over the course of his eight previous seasons in the NBA, getting to the playoffs is something he clearly knows how to do.
For this season that may be enough. Next season will be a different story.