Following another 20-point blowout of the defending champion Miami Heat, the New York Knicks and their fans now know that the team's quick start is no fluke. For the first time in over a decade, the Knicks are a balanced team with a stingy defense and borderline dangerous offense.
Needless to say, if the pressure wasn't already on in New York City, it certainly is now.
Look at it this way: While Knicks fans were happy with keeping the game close in losses prior to the arrival of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire, those types of discussions now revolve around the playoffs, not to mention championship aspirations. The city is back in the winning mindset, so the players had better be able to keep up.
The Knicks are under the microscope now, and that isn't going to change in the near future. Nobody expected them to get off to this good of a start, and the fact that they are currently sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference this early in the season can be considered borderline shocking.
Thus, Mike Woodson had better make sure that his men maintain consistency, because there is no reason that the Knicks shouldn't make the NBA Finals right now. They have taken out top teams like the Miami Heat (twice) and the San Antonio Spurs, so any loss from this point forward can and probably will be considered unacceptable in the fans' eyes.
That makes it all the more important that the Knicks continue playing well. The New York fans are fickle and will turn on their team in a heartbeat if expectations are not met. As a result, the Knicks have absolutely everything to lose right now.
This leads to the next question: Can the New York Knicks stay on track for the rest of the season? Keep in mind, Carmelo Anthony has never been under this kind of pressure, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it.
Throughout his entire career, the former Syracuse star has only been past the first round of the playoffs once. In a sense, during his days with the Denver Nuggets, he was the best player on an otherwise above-average team, never really a great one.
Anthony was still talking about a Knicks championship despite this. After the Miami Heat won it all last season, he implied that he could be on the same stage soon. Keep in mind, this was prior to the Knicks' busy free-agency summer.
The sad truth is that while the Knicks do indeed have so much to play for right now, they also have everything to lose.
Let's say, just for argument's sake, that they end the season as the best team in the Eastern Conference and enter the playoffs as a No. 1 seed. Unless they get as far as the conference finals, fans are going to consider the season a waste and a disappointment. New York has not won a playoff series since 2000, and the fans are getting understandably restless.
Anthony's words will be haunting at that point, as Knicks fans would suffer another disappointment in what has been over a decade of dashed hopes and dreams.
Fortunately for New York, Thursday night's blowout of the Miami Heat suggests that they will do anything but crumble when the pressure is at its highest. The fact that they have not only twice defeated the defending champions this year, but once on the road says it all.
Yes, the pressure in New York City is at its highest now that the fans have equally high expectations, but this team appears focused and fully committed to pleasing its devoted followers.
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