The New York Knicks have had a lot of success in recent weeks, but there are still doubts about whether or not they'll be able to keep it up in the playoffs.
It's certainly understandable to think that they won't.
For one, the injury situation looks terrible. As it stands, four of their five bigs are out, and the other—new signing Solomon Jones—isn't the type of player that can be trusted with major playoff minutes.
On top of that, their recent playoff history isn't too good. It's been two first-round exits for the Knicks the last two seasons, and star Carmelo Anthony has gotten past that point only once himself.
Further questions can be raised about their style of play. Teams rarely succeed in the postseason relying so strongly on three-pointers. A bad run of shooting over a few games could cost a team its shot at the title.
Despite all this, the Knicks are a team that can have success in the playoffs. And a lot of it.
First of all, we need to give them credit for what they've shown us in the regular season. It may not be the same thing as postseason play, but that doesn't mean it's completely irrelevant.
Their offense can be criticised, but the fact is we've never seen a team shoot from deep as successfully as the Knicks have. After all, they just broke the league record for deep bombs in a season.
The way they do it is something that translates no matter whether it's the regular season or playoffs.
As long as Melo is playing dominant basketball—which he has been pretty much all year; not to mention the last month—he can draw double-teams. With good ball movement, a good shot is going to open for any one of the Knicks' shooters.
If the double-team isn't drawn, then the league's top scorer is just going to put up the big numbers we know him for.
Cold stretches are inevitable, but Tyson Chandler's offensive rebounding affords them second opportunities, while Melo and J.R.'s ability to drive to the basket makes sure the offense isn't one-dimensional.
The three-pointers have picked up the headlines, but J.R. getting to the line and Melo hitting the offensive glass have also made a big impact for the Knicks as they've won 14 of their last 15.
Raymond Felton's work in the pick-and-roll with Chandler has also been fruitful this season. Felton's strength helps him to finish in traffic, and Chandler's height and nimble feet mean he's not too bad a finisher himself.
As a Mike Woodson team, there's obviously going to be a huge focus on defense. The Knicks started off the season as an average team in that regard, but they are now eighth in opponent points per game.
They'll need Chandler and Kenyon Martin healthy in order to keep that up, but both could be back in time for Sunday's game against the Indiana Pacers. They give the team the physicality they need, while Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni and a much-improved J.R. Smith look to tighten up the perimeter.
Another thing to consider is the playoff experience of certain members of the team. Chandler and Jason Kidd won rings together with the Dallas Mavericks, and Rasheed Wallace has one from his time in Detroit, where Woody was an assistant coach.
How far will the Knicks go in the playoffs?
Melo may not have the same kind of success in his past, but he's never been on a team this talented before. And on a personal level, he certainly hasn't played this well before.
Whether the Knicks make a deep run or not is going to depend on matchups. They may have earned the right to be called the second-best team in the conference, but that doesn't mean a team like the Chicago Bulls—who swept them in the season series—can't knock them off in the playoffs.
Ultimately, though, this team is certainly capable of making that deep run. They are getting hot at the right time, improving their defense and putting up big numbers with a dynamic offense.
This has been a great season so far for Knicks fans, but it will mean very little if they don't meet their potential in the playoffs. Barring an upset or more injuries, this is a team that should be looking at a conference finals appearance.