Outside of the Miami Heat, the Knicks are proving themselves to be one of the Eastern Conference's elite teams, and this should translate into postseason success.
Their 11-game win streak has made them the talk of the NBA for the time being, but even so, there are still some advantages New York will have in the playoffs that haven't really been talked about yet.
Let's go through them:
All season long we've heard people call the Knicks "old," but the reason they signed so many veteran players in the summer was because of their collective playoff experience.
When you think of the Knicks' playoff history, what typically comes to mind is the fact that they haven't gotten out of the first round since 1999, and that Carmelo Anthony made it out only once in his time with the Denver Nuggets.
What people forget, however, is that Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler won the NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, doing so over the Heat, no less.
In their last seven meetings with the Heat, Chandler and Kidd have won six, which bodes well if they are to eventually meet in the Conference Finals.
Beyond those two, Kenyon Martin is another player who typically ups his game in the playoffs, and Rasheed Wallace's championship pedigree can help out even if he doesn't play.
Even Pablo Prigioni and the nine championships he won in Spain should help out, and the national championships that Melo and Raymond Felton won in college at least show they know how to get things done under pressure.
More Depth Than You Think
J.R. Smith is the talk of the Knicks' bench right now, but as the injury situation starts to improve, the second unit is going to be a lot stronger in the playoffs.
Players like Marcus Camby, Kurt Thomas and Rasheed Wallace still play tough defense in the frontcourt, and if they can make it back for the playoffs, they will provide solid depth behind Tyson Chandler.
Even players who haven't been injured could surprise people. Steve Novak, for example, has done very little during the regular season, but if a team sleeps on him, he can be a game-changer in the playoffs.
The same can be said about Chris Copeland. He's probably the least-known player on the Knicks, but when given playing time, he almost always finds a way to score.
In the playoffs, teams are generally expected to shorten their rotations. But, whilst the Knicks would be wise to do this, the fact that they have so much talent means they can afford to switch things up and get some fresh bodies in if they go on a deep run.
The Return of Amar'e Stoudemire
At this point, whether Amar'e Stoudemire is going to play again this season is up in the air. He was expected to miss only six weeks—which would have him back just in time for the first round—but with the nature of the injury, you just can't be sure.
What you can be sure about, however, is that STAT can help out if he gets a chance to play before it's all said and done.
We hear all this talk about how Stoudemire is incompatible with this Knicks team, but what we saw this season is that he's capable of being effective without being the focal point of the offense.
If New York can get him back playing physically in the paint, he can make a difference by making sure they don't rely too much on outside shooting. After all, outside of Anthony he gets to the line more times than any other Knick each game.
Even if Stoudemire isn't at 100 percent when he comes back and has to play with a minutes limit, he can still have a positive impact. His presence inside is something defenses will have to plan for. As long as he shoots at a high percentage he won't be causing any offensive problems.
The Knicks went through what was their worst stretch of the season when Stoudemire was playing, but you really can't say it was his fault. Injuries to other players and an ever-changing lineup can be blamed for that.
Ultimately, STAT is a player who has had plenty of playoff experience, and if his play earlier this season was anything to go by, he can certainly be helpful to the Knicks if he makes it back in time.
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