Tag:far too excited after a few wins
Posted on: December 8, 2009 3:14 am

How good is this new Knick 8 man rotation?

December has been a good month for New York. The Knicks are 4-1 this month and are one good two week stretch of winning some games that could go either way from being in the playoff hunt, the new Nate-less 8 man rotation has found great success and some big wins. And that two week stretch of coin flip games where the Knicks need to get wins to get in the playoff hunt, it actually starts right now. I think it's important to examine the Knicks month game by game, quickly, because each game seemed like a fluke or a lucky break on it's surface, but I think if you look at the big picture, you can see a changing trend in the way the Knicks are playing, a change for the better.

Knicks 126 Suns 99

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (14-31). Play enough D to hold the Suns under 100 for the first time this year, including great perimeter D. No small task considering the higher then average temp both teams play at. Gallo has a great shooting game. Nate is benched in the first half, never returns, Knicks cruise without Nate.

Excuse from the other side: Suns had an off day. Suns can't be stopped by the Knicks, so they beat themselves. These games happen. Missed a lot of 3's (4-17)

Magic 118 Knicks 104

What went right:

Little. Magic kill the Knicks. Still shoot well from the arc (10-24). Nate still didn't play.

Excuse from the other side: None needed

Knicks 114 Hawks 107

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (11-25). Win without Gallo. D'Antoni sticks to his guns, doesn't play Nate. Duhon picks his game up. Knicks close the game out with very efficent offense, take control after trailing by 1 after 3 and get a rather easy road win. Play good perimeter D.

Excuse from the other side: Josh Smith got ejected. Missed a lot of 3's (4-23). It's the Knicks, who cares?

Knicks 106 Nets 97

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (6-15). Play good perimeter D. Nate doesn't play. Hughes and Lee help Harrington. Hold the Nets to 36 points in the second half after letting up 61 in the first half. Knicks control the boards big time despite Lopez's size. Gallo gets his feet back under him.

Excuse from the other side: Missed a lot of 3's (5-16). Harris isn't 100% yet. We just won a game, been partying since then.

Knicks 93 Portland 84

What went right:

Knicks shoot well from the arc (13-26). Play great D. Nate doesn't play. Gallo and Hughes provide depth. Destroy Blazers so badly that Blazers can outscore Knicks by 14 in the 4th and still lose by 9. Hustled and forced a lot of turnovers.

Excuse from the other side: Oden, Rudy, Outlaw all injured. Missed a lot of 3's (1-8). It's the Knicks, who cares?

If I look at this 4-1 stretch from the Knicks, I see a lot of similar themes. This is 4-1 with 3 wins against very tough teams, so I ask you, have the Knicks got lucky, or are they playing good ball right now?

Have the Knicks hit at least 40% from the arc in each of the 4 wins because they are playing better O, because Nate isn't playing anymore, or because they are lucky?

Did the Knicks hold the Blazers and Suns to under 100 because the opponents were off that night, or because D'Antoni is shrinking his rotation, eliminating Nate's minutes and pourous D for the defensive Hughes, and because Gallo and Jeffries are playing better D, with even Al Harrington giving a solid defensive effort as of late?

Did the Knicks go 4-1 because the Suns were off, the Hawks lost Hughes, the Nets were just happy after a win, and the Blazers lost Roy, or because they are defending the arc much better?

I'm sure a lot of people will write off the Knicks recent success as a fluke, due to great shooting, and expect a regression very soon. They will discount the improvement since Nate stopped playing. They will figure more teams will take the Knicks seriously, and the Knicks will stop lucking into playing teams without great players at their service.

Well, the test to see what side is right is coming up:

Here is the Knicks upcoming schedule:

@ Hornets
@ Bobcats
@ Bulls

The Knicks shouldn't win those first two games. The Bobcats and Hornets, when at home, are better teams, despite the improvement New York has shown.

But watching the Knicks this month, I'm willing to say that the Knicks are better then the Bulls are right now, regardless of where the game is played. The Knicks are better then the Clippers and good enough to beat the Bobcats at the World's Most Famous Arena (but that one is close).

I'm willing to say the Knicks can go 4-2 in their next 6 games. This shorter rotation, no Nate Robinson, better defensive effort, and offense that is much improving, I think this Knicks team is playing right now like one of the 8 best teams in the East, and I think it's not just luck and fortunate circumstances, but an improvement in the way they are playing ball.

These next two weeks will tell a lot about the Knicks. Will they fall apart and lose 4 of these 6? Maybe they will. Maybe they can't win without the excellent 3 point shooting they have had this month. But the eyeball test, from me at least, tells me this team is fighting hard for 48 minutes. Knicks have had bad quarters and bad halves in this 4-1 stretch, but have played hard during each of the 4 wins. I think this new 8 man rotation has real potential, everyone seems to know their role, and the sum of the pieces is good enough to get a win against almost anyone on any given night. I said before the season that I thought the Knicks were a team good enough to be just outside the playoff picture, and maybe just 1 move away from the 8 seed. They are actually playing right now like that team. I think it's gonna last for a while.

Feel free to blast me if the Knicks end up sliding back to the depths of the East in the next 6 games. But if the Knicks do go 4-2 in this stretch, and keep playing as well as they have to secure wins like the Suns, Hawks, and Blazers, I'm gonna start hunting you guys down. Nobody wants to hear smack from a Knicks fan. So I'm giving you fair warning, and a chance to give it to me first if NY fades. But if they don't, we might just have a legitimate scary opponent in New York, something the NBA hasn't really said (or at least meant it if they did say it) for far too long.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com