By Max Marcilla
The countdown is coming to an end, as the Knicks open their season at home against the Milwaukee Bucks tonight at 7:30. Before the NBA season tips off, I’ll leave Knick Nation with some questions about the team and my predictions.
Will The Knicks Key Players Stay Healthy?
Obviously, health is the key for any sport and any team, but when looking at the recent injury history of many players on the Knicks, health is a must. The Knicks have good news, as 14 of the 15 players on the roster could play opening night, with the lone acceptation being J.R. Smith, who is suspended for violating the league substance abuse policy.
Last year, a big reason the Knicks were beat by the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs was because almost everyone was nursing injuries. Carmelo Anthony had an injured shoulder, J.R. Smith had a knee injury, Amar’e Stoudemire wasn’t himself once he came back from his injuries, and Tyson Chandler was “soft” and getting pushed around by Roy Hibbert due to a bad back and neck.
With an injury prone roster, the Knicks have to stay healthy to compete with the other teams in the East.
Can Carmelo Anthony Evolve His Game?
We all know Melo is one of the best scorers in the game, but the problem is his defense. For a defensive minded coach in Mike Woodson, having a star that struggles on defense is tough. Carmelo Anthony can carry a team throughout the regular season, with wins like the game against the Hawks this year (106-104 with 42 points by Anthony). However, when it comes down to the playoffs, against the best teams like the Heat, Bulls or Pacers, Carmelo Anthony can’t carry a team by only playing offense.
Can Coach Woodson Make Adjustments?
Another problem the Knicks had last year was adjustments in the playoffs, especially in the Indiana series. The Knick fans were calling for Chris Copeland, and when he finally got on the court he made a huge impact, but it was too little too late. Now, with many new pieces to this Knicks team (Metta World Peace, Andrea Bargnani, Beno Udrih…) Coach Woodson should be able to put guys in when they are hot, or have a good match-up. He has to take advantage of that and utilize everyone on the team, and if he does, the Knicks could have one of the best bench units in the league.
Call me a homer all you want, but I am still not impressed with the Brooklyn Nets. Yes, of course they got better, but they are still missing some big pieces to a championship. They have a somewhat fragile point guard in Deron Williams, and if he goes down, who can step up? They also have a handful of injury prone vets in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who I’m not convinced they can go back to their All-Star days in 2008. I do think the Knicks depth can lead them to their second division title; however, the two teams will be close. I predict the Knicks record to be 55-27, one game better than they finished last year, because YES, I do think they got better. As for the conference rankings, I think the Knicks will drop a few spots due to improvements to nearly every team, but I do think they will finish 4th.
My Eastern Conference Standings: