J.R. Smith driving to the hoop
The New York Knicks have started the 2012-2013 NBA season 8-2, and it has somehow been even more impressive than the record suggests. New York has faced a very tough schedule, won seven of those games by double-digits and let a win over the Dallas Mavericks foolishly slip away.
The success comes primarily due to the change in Carmelo Anthony and the performance of newcomers Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and Rasheed Wallace.
Almost as exciting as the success itself is the possibility of rivaling top teams for the first time in a long time. Knicks fans are tired of seeing their team get crushed by supposed "rivals" and never really rivaling anyone. That seems like it may be over though. Now New York can hate teams, and be hated back, just like every team dreams of.
Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire
Before the New York Knicks move on to rivaling other teams, they must get past their first, and perhaps most important, obstacle: themselves.
New York must continue to do what has made it successful thus far this season, regardless of what challenges they face. The team must continue to move the ball with ease and make the extra pass. The team must also continue to show defensive intensity throughout games. The team simply cannot return to isolation plays through Melo every time they have the ball, and lackluster defense on the other end of the court.
To be specific, two players can get in the way of a continued success of New York, and those are the two stars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Carmelo must maintain the unselfishness and defensive mindset that has made him an early MVP candidate. Upon his return, Stoudemire must show the same two capabilities in order to gel well with Melo and get back on Madison Square Garden's good side. If and once those things happen, it will be time to focus on other teams.
Indiana's stars celebrating
It isn't quite the Reggie Miller days yet, but Indiana Pacer games are still marked on every Knicks' calendar. With players such as Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert leading the team, Indiana poses a threat every time they step on the floor.
Last season, the Pacers came awfully close to eliminating the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs. This season, they are expected to challenge for a top seed in the Eastern Conference—the same seed New York is vying for.
The Knicks took out Indiana 88-76 earlier this season, but that was without Granger. Expect this old rivalry to continue its rebirth as these two very well could face off in the playoffs. Oh, and expect Reggie to pop into New York's minds late in games...because no one forgets events that traumatizing.
The Boston "Big 3"
New York vs. Boston. It is pretty much self-explanatory why these two are rivals. It's a clash of the two big cities in the northeast, and it's a clash with considerable history.
Knicks vs. Celtics in particular has not been a huge rivalry, but that will be changing quickly. New York hasn't won the division since 1994, and it seems the team in their path this season is the Celtics. Boston is deemed to be a bit past its prime, but the players showed they still have it by coming painfully close to the NBA Finals last year.
The two teams will square off four times this year, and those four meetings are likely to decide the victor of the Atlantic. After the thriller two seasons ago in which Stoudemire hit a game-winning three just a millisecond too late, expect these games to somehow get even closer.
Brooklyn Nets pregame
As we prepared to enter the 2012-2013 NBA season, one of the big stories was, which team will win New York's heart? A glimpse at the answer was supposed to come when the two were scheduled to open the season against each other at the new Barclays Center, but Hurricane Sandy pushed the game back to November 26th.
The rivalry is born from many places. The teams play just a 30-minute subway ride from each other. Both teams play in the same division and are expected to challenge for the title. Both teams feature a relatively new "Big 3" that fans hope will dominate.
There is no end to the list of reasons why this will make a great rivalry for years to come. The question is, who will get the first blow? The answer comes on Monday.
The Miami "Big 3"
This one is an old rivalry, and it is a new one as well. Older fans remember the showdowns in the 90s between these two squads that were...let's say physical. Younger fans remember the playoffs last season and Stoudemire's last-second block on Lebron to win the game earlier in the regular season.
If New York wants to finally get that coveted NBA Championship, they will need to get past the defending champs. That means another battle featuring what many New York fans see as good vs. evil.
Lebron James was supposed to come to MSG instead of South Beach according to some Knicks' fans, but now they claim the team is better off without him. Carmelo will need to back those words up sooner rather than later.