A little more than halfway through the 2010-2011 NBA season, the New York Knicks sit at 22-21, still nestled into the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. It has been a learning experience for Mike D'Antoni's team so far, with the new players feeling each other out and working on their chemistry. It has looked great at times, but the Knicks have hit some bumps as well, including this current six-game losing streak.
In their most recent game, the Knicks battled one of the best in the West—the Oklahoma City Thunder—in their building to the very end, only to see one of the great young players in this league—Kevin Durant—trounce their hopes of getting back on the winning side of things by hitting a three with the game tied, as time expired.
No one ever told the Knicks it was going to be easy, and they will continue to get better as they play together longer. Consistency is something essential to success in any sport, so New York has to learn to limit the bad shots and turnovers, as well as grinding it out on defense every possession—not just turning it up in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks have some very winnable games coming up with the Wizards coming into town tonight and games against Detroit, Philadelphia (twice), the Nets and the Clippers all on the schedule in the next 10 games. They do see Miami, Atlanta, Dallas and the Lakers, but the only game away from home of those four is the against the Hawks, who are a very beatable team.
Winning six or seven of these next 10 games is crucial to this team's season. The Knicks are a young talented group and if they can gain some confidence back entering the final stretch of the season, we could see a dangerous club going into the playoffs with nothing to lose.
Lets face it: Most people don't buy into the what the Knicks are doing this season, but strongly believe that with one more key component added to the lineup, they could return to greatness. I say "to hell with that!" Why not make a nice dent in the Eastern Conference and really shake things up this year?
The Knicks have shown—when at their best—they can beat any team. Yes, the bad losses to Miami and the Lakers may have you thinking otherwise, but with Gallinari back, Amare dominating and Felton in the midst of a career year, who's to say these Knicks can't make a run?
In a time when most people are wondering if New York can end the skid, I'm looking at how good we can be come playoff time. This stretch of losses doesn't concern me as a fan, but I do think some adjustments should be made.
Ronny Turiaf has been struggling with injury the past month or so, but I think that when he is healthy he should be our permanent starter at center. I think D'Antoni was leading toward that idea anyway, but Turiaf is a guy who will work very hard, set screens, get scrappy rebounds and bring a little life to the team on the defensive end.
I would like them to showcase Randolph a little bit if they are going to trade him. The kid is 21 years old and will not be worth a penny if he never touches the court. I think he is full of raw talent and would thrive in a different system, although I still can't see how he doesn't "fit" the Knicks' system if Turiaf and Timofey Mozgov do.
Tonight is where the road to redemption begins for the Knickerbockers. They face the Washington Wizards (13-29) at Madison Square Garden in what should be walk in the park for Stoudemire and company. After some solid efforts on the road against two teams from the west, it is time to come home and get the Garden rockin' again.
A win here would take the pressure off the players and coaches so they don't have to face LeBron and the Heat with a seven-game skid looming over their shoulders.