Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, Despite Win, Shouldn’t be too Happy

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Glass Half Empty kind of Fan – The New York Knicks needed Orlando to lose Dwight Howard with a sixth foul and be missing Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson, leaving Orlando depleted around the perimeter, their second most dangerous weapon after their All-Star Center, while Jason Richardson is playing hurt, to win an overtime game. That’s a lot of things going New York’s way.

Glass Half Full kind of Fan – The Knicks finally won one. Against a good team. Their first win after six straight losses and only their second win in their last 11 games. Carmelo Anthony scored 39, his best since becoming a Knick. Maybe more importantly, Carmelo’s battle cry prior to the game, calling it a “must win” for the 7th place Knicks (36-38), brought out their best game in a while.

The interesting fact about the Knicks since the big trade? They’re 7-4 against teams over .500 and 1-8 (!!!) against teams with a losing record. That is bad news for whoever will get the Knicks in the first round. Right now it’s a toss up between the Heat and the Celtics. I don’t think the Bulls will lose their lead in the East, and I don’t see the Knicks climbing to sixth at expense of the Sixers, who just beat Chicago last night.

But that stats and Carmelo’s excellent shooting doesn’t really make the future bright for the Knicks. Amare isn’t himself since losing his Alpha-Male status in New York. Chauncey Billups might have a title ring and tons of playoff experience, but when the legs aren’t there anymore, that experience can’t carry you too far. And that’s it. The Knicks lost all their depth in that trade, and that depth seems to be doing mighty fine playing for the Nuggets. It probably got a lot of Knicks jerseys to sell, but it won’t get them past the first round in the playoffs.

The Knicks aren’t playing to D’Antoni’s style since Billups arrived. He can’t run & gun for 40 minutes. The coach’s style might not be exactly the right recipe for a deep playoff run, but its good and fun to watch. Still, a point guard who fits the style is probably the most important ingredient. Having two ball hogs who hardly give up on any shot doesn’t help at all. It can win you games, even tight ones – Carmelo is among the best clutch shooters in the league if not the best of them, but it won’t get you too far in the long run. The summer is vital for the Knicks to keep pushing – not for STARS, but the right players. Something the team seemed to be doing the right way before the huge deadline trade.

Still, can they surprise Boston/Miami in the playoffs? Probably not. The only way I see it happening is if this team completely changes its mentality and becomes a slow pace, fighting, sluggish, scratching and mean bunch. Use post ups and just push the ball inside all the time. It won’t happen. It won’t work. Too many players on this team don’t like to play defense, and that’s where it will all fall apart. There was a similar game between the Knicks and the Celtics last week. The Celtics thrive in this kind of ‘old school’ game, and won 96-86. They got a few calls to help them (as usual), but they are better equipped for that kind of game.

Anthony and others have said that the new-look Knicks are a work in progress, learning each other and it’ll take time. If their aim is to make a statement in these playoffs, they’ve run out of time. Playoffs are just around the corner.