Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, and the New York Knicks managed to reach the Conference Finals in the 1999-2000 season. They lost to the Reggie Miller-led Indiana Pacers in six games. Since reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000, the Knicks haven’t won a single playoff series.
Since that time, they only made the playoffs twice up until the 2010-2011 season. This is New York’s third consecutive trip to the NBA Playoffs. This time, they are looking to make it a memorable playoff experience. New York’s regular season winning percentage has increased by .147 over the last three years. Their improvement led them to finish the year with an encouraging 54-28 record. With that said, most of us should be expecting an entry into the second round.
But what exactly has changed to make us believe the Knicks can move on to the next round? Well, it is kind of simple. They are finally playing team basketball. The team isn’t made up of individuals like it used to be. The adjustments that the front office and players made have certainly worked.
Adding the ten-time all-star, Jason Kidd, has solidified the team’s chemistry. While J-Kidd’s 40-year-old body isn’t in the same shape it used to be, his basketball IQ is still present. He gives New York a positive mindset that has brought them to where they are right now.
Carmelo Anthony is another man that is responsible for this turnaround. Him and Kidd probably held some sort of meeting at the beginning of the season. That meeting has steered the team in the right direction and kept them on track. It is nice to see that the Knicks have finally put the pieces together. Things seem to be going smoothly on the court.
Head Coach, Mike Woodson, is also someone to give credit to. Woodson’s defensive-minded style is beneficial to the Knicks. It gives the players a reasonable amount of freedom on offense. Woodson is okay with that, as long as they are consistently putting the ball in the basket. There has been minimal drama between Woodson and the Knicks. He has been able to tolerate the star players on the team.
But the Knicks’ solid defense all starts with 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. The presence of him makes opposing players fear taking the ball to the basket. It forces teams to settle for low-percentage outside jumpers. Chandler really proved himself to the league when he won a championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011.
As of right now, the Knicks clearly look more motivated and driven to be successful. Players, such as J.R. Smith, have emerged to become key factors. The team is putting in substantial effort on defense. Last year, it looked like they were just playing casual basketball. This year, it looks like they are playing to accomplish something.