By John Schmeelk
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When people think of great seasons that their teams have, they often think about some signature win against a good team, whether it is the regular season or the playoffs.
What’s forgotten are all the games they win that they’re supposed to. That’s how an NBA team wins 60 games or a baseball team wins a 100. So far this season, the Knicks are doing what great teams have to do: beat bad teams. And they are doing it convincingly.
The Knicks have gone 7-1 against teams under .500 this season, and for the most part have won those games convincingly. Every single one of those wins have come in convincing fashion. Some were in single digits in the fourth quarter, but none were one or two-possession games in the final minutes. The two most recent wins against the Suns and Wizards were great examples of the Knicks cruising to victory despite not playing particularly well.
At halftime of the Wizards game on Friday night, the Knicks were coasting and still led by 10. They finally went up by 20 and cruised to victory in the second half. Against the Suns, Carmelo Anthony only shot 11-of-27, Rasheed Wallace was ejected early in the game and J.R. Smith shot just 1-of-11.
Nut the Knicks still won and led by 20 at some points in the game.
Winning games like those is how a team wins 55-60 games and gets a top seed in the postseason. No team is going to be able to play their best game every night, but the key is to still win despite that. The Knicks are that much better than those lower-echelon teams that they are not only winning, but they are winning convincingly. The Knicks in the mid-late 1990s had this ability, and it is perhaps the most telling sign that this current team is here to stay.
– Raymond Felton’s injury doesn’t appear serious right now, but we’ve seen bone bruises become multiple-week ordeals before. With Jason Kidd still hobbled with a bad back, this is an injury that the Knicks can’t afford. Even with Pablo Prigioni there as a backup, losing Felton could really set this team back. He is the primary pick-and-roll ball handler, which the Knicks use to get most of their open looks. Along with Smith, he is also the team’s secondary scorer to Anthony. He is the guy more so than anyone that gets Tyson Chandler all his point-blank dunks and layups. People complain about Felton’s shot selection, but they need him to win, and his loss would be crippling.
– Chris Copeland showed in the first half against the Suns what he showed in the preseason: He can score. If he can defend and rebound consistently he might be able to find more consistent minutes. But until then, or if more injuries happen, he’ll stay on the bench.
– Wallace is now officially a Knick after his first ejection, right? I would like a few less three-pointers out of him, too.
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