The New York Knicks will be facing two major concerns with the NBA playoffs rapidly approaching. One is out of their hands while the other has to do with the individual makeup of those in the core.
Let's begin with the latter.
When the Knicks started the season hot, the ball was moving and shots were falling. But if you look historically at some of the key members in the supporting cast, you'll pick up on a trend that's likely to keep a flame from burning very long.
Right now the Knicks' No. 2 and No. 3 scoring options are J.R. Smith, 15.2 shots per game, and Raymond Felton, 14.4 shots per game.
Smith, a career 42-percent shooter, is shooting 40 percent on the year, while Felton, a career 41-percent shooter, is shooting 40.8 percent on the year. This is who they are and what they've always been.
The Knicks average 78.4 shots per game, with Smith and Felton taking nearly 30 of them combined, or approximately 38 percent of the teams total attempts. If these two players are going to account for 38 percent of the team's total shot attempts, they'll never get much consistency considering their individual field-goal percentages.
Amar'e Stoudemire, on the other hand, is averaging 14.2 points per game, yet doing so at a much more efficient rate (57.7 percent shooting). He's producing practically the same amount of points as Felton—14.8 per game—yet taking five less shots to get there.
This is why Amar'e needs to reestablish himself as the No. 2 option, giving the lineup a more reliable source for points in the half court.
The problem is we don't know if that's a possibility given the leash the coaching staff has wrapped around him.
For the Knicks to advance in the playoffs, they're going to have to hope that Smith and Felton are both hot at the same time, like they were earlier in the year when the team was torching everyone they played.
It's just not something you want to rely on when you need to get through a couple of seven-game series.
The other concern is simply out of their hands at this point.
While being a veteran-laden group certainly has its perks, the side effects could be devastating in the long run.
The Knicks have had to dip into the unemployment pool twice already in search of a cheap source for production thanks to a deteriorating front line. They started with Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby, then called on Rasheed Wallace, and have now resorted to plan D in Kenyon Martin.
And the backcourt situation hasn't gotten any better.
You can actually hear Jason Kidd getting older, Iman Shumpert's explosiveness is visibly absent since returning from ACL surgery and Pablo Prigioni isn't a threat to generate offense.
Combine all that old age with Amar'e Stoudemire's minutes-cap and Carmelo Anthony's inability to finish a game without getting banged up and the Knicks have problems they can't fix themselves.
Looking at the playoff picture, the first round for the Knicks is unlikely to be a walk in the park. Tied for second in the conference with Indiana, New York could potentially be looking at a first-round meeting with either the Chicago Bulls or Boston Celtics, two teams the Knicks want no part of.
Regardless of who they play, the veterans will have to stay healthy and the guards will have to get hot. Without the ability to control most of their concerns at this point in the year, the Knicks will want to be riding a heat wave when the playoffs roll around.
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