By Aaron Kopperl
With their victory over the Thunder in Oklahoma City Sunday afternoon, the Knicks winning streak has been extended to 12 games. Carmelo Anthony’s unbelievable scoring outbursts along with J.R. Smith’s new and efficient drive-first style of play have been major factors in the Knicks’ recent stretch. The dynamic duo has also been assisted by the recently signed and intense big man Kenyon Martin, who has bolstered the front line while Tyson Chandler was sidelined for approximately 10 games. Not to mention, the double-teams that Melo and J.R. have drawn are allowing many of the Knick shooters to capitalize on wide-open 3-point opportunities. However, how long can the Knicks continue their unstoppable level of play? With the Washington Wizards in New York on Tuesday night, it is safe to say that the streak can extend to 13 games, but there are much greater challenges that lie ahead.
On Thursday night, the Knicks will be facing a tough matchup as they take on the Bulls in Chicago. The Knicks are 0-3 against the Bulls this season because of Tom Thibodeau’s tough and annoying style of defense he has his team play. On more than one occasion, the Knicks have lost their temper and some players have been ejected due to frustrations caused by the Bulls defense. For some odd reason, the Knicks also seem to surrender a ton of points to a Bulls team that has had trouble all year scoring without their superstar Derrick Rose. With Kenyon Martin now a part of the #Knickstape, they should be able to match the Bulls in intensity and defensive toughness. Hopefully, the Knicks can at least claim one victory over the Bulls this season and give themselves some confidence if they were to face the Bulls in a playoff series.
The next, and possibly last serious challenge on the Knicks’ regular season schedule comes when they square off against the Indiana Pacers Sunday in New York, with hopes of evening the season series to 2 apiece. Much like the Bulls, the Pacers’ stifling defense has given the Knicks serious problems in their 3 matchups, along with the play of rising star Paul George. Granted, the Knicks might have the series edge if Carmelo Anthony had played in their last matchup in Indiana, but the Knicks, led by J.R. Smith, could not find easy ways to put the ball in the basket. This game will be tough for the Knicks, but Coach Woodson has challenged them to not lose another game at home this season and several Knicks players have publicly stated that they owe the Pacers for beating them 2 consecutive times.
Although the Knicks have a tough road ahead in their hopes of extending the streak, with the way they have been playing lately, there is an extreme possibility that the Knicks can make their winning last throughout the rest of the regular season. Even if they cannot accomplish this feat, the Knicks can still triumph. With the streak ended and the division title awarded (hopefully), the Knicks would be able to rest some of their key players to keep them healthy and fresh for the start of the postseason, which is imperative. No Knicks fan would want to start another postseason run with key players injured, which has been a recurring theme over the past several years.
History has shown that when the Knicks have a winning streak of about 10 or more, they fair extremely well in the playoffs. Hopefully, history can repeat itself this season.
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