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The Knicks know there's only three other contenders in the East.
The Eastern Conference is not particularly strong.
The Miami Heat are an excellent team, but they are mortal, as the Knicks proved in their opening night victory by a convincing 104-84 margin.
Outside of the defending champs, the elites of the East are the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers. The Brooklyn Nets like to think that they're in that conversation as well, but each team has question marks.
The C's are decaying. While the Knicks are older on average, Boston's Big Two—Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce—are 36 and 35, respectively. Boston will rely partly on a patchwork rotation of players returning from injury (Avery Bradley and Jeff Green) and untested rookies (Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo).
The Pacers lack an elite scorer. If they want to advance deep into the playoffs, they need consistent offense. They've struggled without Danny Granger (sore knee) and are piecing their scoring together from George Hill, Paul George and David West (through four games, they're averaging 91 points, 25th in the NBA).
The Nets are a team that went 22-44 last season and only added Joe Johnson to the starting five. On November 5, they squandered a 22-point lead in the final 22 minutes against a Minnesota Timberwolves team missing Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.
With this competition, the Knicks have a good opportunity to advance at least as far as the conference finals.