The 2010-11 season saw a sixth-seeded Knicks team get swept by the Boston Celtics. The 2011-12 season had a similar byproduct when a seventh-seeded New York team was ousted by the Miami Heat. Can the Knickerbockers claim a higher seed and will they progress farther into the playoffs by doing so?
In short, my answer is yes; many questions loom next season, not just for New York, but for many teams that had a higher seeding than they did this time around.
The No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls will be without star point guard Derrick Rose till possibly the All-Star break. A torn ACL is not an easy injury to recover from, and the fact that it's the point guard position, I can't see Chicago rushing their star. While one player does not make a team, Rose sure did make a difference for them.
The No. 4 seed Boston Celtics will be aging even more. That's not a knock on how good the Celtics are currently playing, but with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett's future still in the air, a strong core is really not present aside from a young Rajon Rondo. Unless they make a splash during free agency, I don't see Boston winning the Atlantic Division consecutive years.
The No. 6 seed Orlando Magic will be distracted as they were this past season with the Dwight Howard chronicles. The easy solution would be to nip the situation in the bud and trade the star, but I believe they'll try to hold out to get maximum value for D12.
The Knicks, too, have their own issues.
Rookie sensation Iman Shumpert will miss some time; he will surely be missed for the defensive prowess he brings to the table. But, like the case with Derrick Rose, I can't see management justifying rushing a recovery.
And who knows what will happen with Jeremy Lin, or if he will prove that his time on the court was no fluke. He has progressed from his knee injury, but if things don't go the Knicks' way in the court hearing concerning his Bird rights, Lin could bolt for more money elsewhere. I can bet some team will throw millions at him; just think about what he will do for their ticket sales.
As of right now, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis's contracts are off the books. New York will surely be looking into another point guard. Hopefully, they won't make the Knick faithful suffer with Toney Douglas manning backup duties.
Questions need to be answered, and when they are, I hope the answers given are not disappointing.
All in all, I think the Knicks have the potential to clinch the Atlantic Division ahead of Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto and Brooklyn. If not, they could easily take the fifth or sixth seed, and to Knicks' fans, that's progression; however, it's not a success till another banner is hanging from the rafters at Madison Square Garden, and who knows when that will happen.