A small sampling pool of only three games doesn’t mean much, but the New York Knicks are impressive. They’ve scored at least 100 points in all three wins. They’ve won by at least 16 points three times, and they haven’t let anyone score more than 88 points on them. Not just Carmelo Anthony deserves praises. Everyone deserves it.
The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t exactly the best of opponents they’ll be meeting this season, especially without Andrew Bynum, who was supposed to be the balancing factor between a bunch of guys who love to shoot but not too keen on passing. With no interior, this was easy work for the Knicks for a second straight night.
For a third straight game, it was Carmelo Anthony leading the scoring. But he didn’t force the game or take too many shots. Only 16, making 7 of them, which is very timid for him. He finished with a game high 21 points, adding 7 rebound as the Knicks continue to create open shots from beyond the arc by slicing through the middle and kicking it out to open shooters. This time Rasheed Wallace, Ronnie Brewer, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith finished with multiple three point field goals.
If you try to put a finger on one player that’s making this all happen, it might be Tyson Chandler. His dominance in the paint through the first three games has allowed the Knicks to make everyone feel uncomfortable when playing them, forcing bad shot after bad shot. On the other end of the floor, it’s simply smart basketball. The Knicks do play quick when the ball is in the hands of Smith or Felton, but the passing, patience and ball movement as at a level no one expected them to be at, especially for those watching Knicks games last year. Jeremy Lin was exciting to watch, but there was nothing flawless or planned about his game.
And then there’s the Mike Woodson factor. How different is he from Mike D’Antoni? Unlike the former head coach, Woodson isn’t all about basketball schemes. He’s a much more fundamental kind of guy, but he has that important trait that makes players want to play for him, listen to him, learn from him. He actually seems to care what they pick up from his preaching and teachings during practice, which makes a world of a difference from the previous guy, who wasn’t a hands-on kinda head coach.
We were able to make the moves we wanted to this offseason, and everyone has come here, has been happy with their playing time, and contributed in their own way.
The Knicks took a big gamble by going old and pretty much saying that this team is going to be Carmelo Anthony, streaky shooters and veterans way over the hill. The same Carmelo Anthony who has been only once past the first round of the NBA playoffs in his nine-year NBA career through all the teams that have been built around him.
Beyond the small ball and Amare Stoudemire missing, there’s actual effort, tenacity and leadership radiating from Anthony. Not something that should be taken lightly from player quite often criticized for his defense and willingness to give it all beyond taking shots on his own.
Maybe the Olympic games, where he had a bigger role than ever before, finishing second on the team in scoring; maybe it’s playing for coach Woodson and the feeling of support and trust from the organization by sending Lin away; Maybe it’s being the last elite player for the 2003 draft class without an NBA title. Whatever it is, one week into the season, Carmelo Anthony is playing like an MVP for a team that might be a lot more menacing in the East than they were initially thought to be.