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Big expectations are nothing new in New York, especially with the franchise entering its fourth season of the Carmelo Anthony era. Though the highest of hopes were initially dashed by injury and chemistry issues besetting Amar'e Stoudemire, there's renewed optimism that the Knicks can continue their evolution under head coach Mike Woodson.
A bruised and battered New York squad fell to the Miami Heat in the first round during Woodson's first year coaching the team (after inheriting it midseason from Mike D'Antoni). It did better last season, though, ultimately falling to the Indiana Pacers in the semifinals.
Before Smith and Co. can really start thinking about beating the Miami Heat to a title in 2014, they still have to top Indiana, to say nothing of the increased threats posed by the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
To avoid a wasted season, Smith will need to do his part. That means no more blond hair.
For those interested in JR Smith's hairstyle, his dad says he is going back to his traditional look, per instructions from Mike Woodson.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) August 8, 2013
And more importantly, he can't shoot 29 percent from the field in the conference semifinals. Hushed injury struggles had something to do with that last season, but the Pacers probably did too. Staying healthy will be up to chance, but figuring out teams like Indiana is up to the Knicks.