Originally posted on Knicks Journal  |  Last updated 4/13/13
Though the Knicks' thirteen game winning streak was snapped in Chicago, and the team went all out through overtime trying to earn themselves a victory that never came, it's easy to see they are (as short-handed as they may be) transitioning into playoff mode with their eyes on a long-term run.Though he, like many of his teammates, exhausted himself against Chicago a bit, Carmelo Anthony's minutes have begun to go down. In two out of the last three games, he's played 31 minutes or less. Expect that trend to continue.The Knicks, of course, want to keep winning. It'd be easy to say New York should rest Anthony and then allow others to step up in the meantime so that the forward can stay fresh for the playoffs, but given the way the team has been pulling straws for worthwhile contributors, simply expecting for there to be other contributors available just isn't in the cards.Instead, Coach Mike Woodson is hoping that his team can continue putting away opponents through the first three quarters of a contest, and then not look back. Anthony has been seen sitting comfortably on the bench during the final quarter of games as of late. Resting him then (and hoping the team secures a comfortable lead in time for this) is a pretty good strategy.As Anthony's minutes have decreased, naturally, so has his point production. There was talk of him beating Bernard King's 40 point game streak, then further talks of him continuing his own individual 35 point game trend.Ironically enough, the conversation has now come down to pondering how much longer Anthony can continue to score 30 points or more. Will he be able to tie/beat Amar'e Stoudemire's team-record of nine games? If Anthony's decrease in minutes is any indication, the chances of him doing so are unlikely.Surely, Woodson and the Knicks hope they can secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference by the end of this weekend (especially with a game against the Pacers on Sunday). If and when this happens, expect Anthony to be sitting more and more through the regular season's final games.From Kenyon Martin, to Joakim Noah, to now most recently Kobe Bryant, Knicks and NBA fans have seen what kind of late-season injuries can occur to players if they're relied upon too much down the stretch. There's no point in risking something horrific happening to a player like Anthony at this point either.Secure a lead. Sit down and rest. Coast to victory. This has seemed to be a strategy utilized by Coach Woodson during the Knicks' most recent 101-91 victory over the Cavaliers, and even the latter few games of New York's most impressive recent winning streak. It's not just about resting Anthony, but most, if not all, of the team's more key contributors.Of course, because the Knicks are so short-handed to begin with at this point, resting each and everyone the coaching staff would like to has become more difficult to do than originally planned. The team's final unit during their most recent wins has been headlined by players like Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak.Perhaps it's good to play Shumpert a few extra minutes each game as he continues to get even more comfortable and come back into his own, following a January return from injury. He has looked much better over the course of the last few weeks, so maybe some extra burn will help him even more. Against an opponent's final unit, he'll be able to toy with opposing defenders.Novak has struggled to find his shooting stroke following the NBA All-Star break, so perhaps he could use some extra seasoning for playoff time too. Even so, as the Knicks look to prioritize a bit, it's easy to understand why Novak is out there: it's more important to rest everyone else at this point.Here's to hoping the Knicks can continue to secure early leads and not look back. The ability for key players to take a breather and rest up for a potential run in the playoffs depends on it.
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