The New York Knicks are smoking hot, so naturally let's talk about what can eventually cool them off.
They have a lot going for them right now. This is where Mike Woodson will earn his money—keeping the team chugging along the right path and minimizing the damage done by potential obstructions.
With only one loss after nine games, the Knicks have to strap their seat belts on and prepare for potential adversity. Success is usually threatened at some point.
The rim looks like a hula hoop to just about everyone on the team right now.
But what happens when it shrinks to the hole on the 18th green?
Unless this is the greatest team of all time, their absurd three-point shooting percentages are going to drop. Here's what some of them are shooting in 2012 as of Wednesday, November 21, compared to their career averages:
J.R. Smith: 57 percent three-pointers—Career average: 37 percent.
Jason Kidd: 50 percent three-pointers—Career average: 35 percent.
Raymond Felton: 44 percent three-pointers—Career average: 33 percent.
Ronnie Brewer: 42 percent three-pointers—Career average: 26 percent.
So as I was saying, these numbers are likely to drop, and the Knicks will have to find ways to compensate for missed three-point attempts—or attempt less and find other ways to score.
Either way, becoming overly reliant on the three-ball is their biggest threat to their season.
While the three of them are all effective individually, we still haven't seen the frontcourt trio operate with cohesiveness and success.
The issue last year was related to spacing. The space Amar'e Stoudemire used to pick-and-roll was taken by Chandler, forcing him to drift into Carmelo Anthony's territory, giving Melo less room to wheel and deal.
Offensive clutter needs to be avoided.
I've gotten lettuce and tomatoes tossed at me for suggesting Amar'e come off the bench, just to preserve the current flow of the Knicks' lineup. The idea of fixing or changing something that isn't broken just feels unsettling.
But if Woodson doesn't consider that an option, these three not meshing will remain a threat to the Knicks sustaining their hot start.
Nightly favorites? This just isn't a position the Knicks are used to being in.
Attacking each opponent, regardless of record, with a specific game plan needs to remain a priority.
We've seen Carmelo and J.R. Smith's hands heat up and consequently effect their shot selection. They need to continue focusing on every possession and not waste possessions attempting pretty fade-away jumpers and 25-foot, step-back three-balls.
The Hornets game Monday night could have easily been a trap, but they approached it like bullies and never let up. It's a real promising sign moving forward.
I'm not breaking any news here, but Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, their top players on each side of the ball, need to stay healthy.
Neither the offense or the defense can afford the loss of either of the two. Wrapping their bodies in bubble wrap for each game might not be such a bad idea.
With regard to depth, the Knicks frontcourt is the most vulnerable. It's hard to believe I'm saying this, but Rasheed Wallace's interior presence has legitimately made a difference. Keeping his legs fresh and his mind right for the playoffs should actually be a priority at this point, with Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas offering little to the rotation.
I'm no Miss Cleo, but I'm willing to bet a losing streak is in their cards sometime in the near future.
A string of losses can be deadly to a winning group's mental makeup, especially if they're new to winning. Sticking to the script and not losing faith in one another should be a key point of emphasis when combating adversity.
At some point the shots are going to start rimming out. Carmelo Anthony will have to try to resist from playing "hero ball," which usually results in poor shot selection, minimal ball movement and stagnant offensive possessions.
The formula that has them sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings has been better shots and fluid rhythm. It just needs to be a constant to sustain success.
Ever since J.R. Smith got bored of the New York nightlife, his game has been on point.
So Knick fans have to hope the temptation doesn't resurface. The team can't afford Smith to be partying with "DJ Who Gives a Crap" at Club Mayhem the night before a game.
New York needs to keep their minds right. The waters won't be this calm for the entire season.
But man, do they look good.