USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks have proven themselves the best team in the Eastern Conference early on this season, with the top record in the conference and two routs of the Miami Heat.
The New York Knicks cemented their status as one of the league's elite so far in 2012-13 in a week they won three out of four games, including a blowout victory over the defending NBA champions.
The Knicks struggled in a few games, but came away with three wins from a tough four-game, five-night stretch that saw them play in four different cities. Jason Kidd came back from a back injury and steadied New York's offense while draining some threes of his own, while Carmelo Anthony missed a pair of games with a lacerated middle finger. J.R. Smith was the hero against the Charlotte Bobcats, getting a steal with less than 24 seconds left before drilling a game-winner, and hot three-point shooting carried them against the Miami Heat and late against the Denver Nuggets. They lost a listless game to Chicago without Anthony, but the week was still a success. Seth Rosenthal of SB Nation bumped the team up to No. 3 in his latest NBA Power Rankings, behind only the Spurs and Thunder:
New York gamely handled a tough stretch, taking three wins out of four games in five nights, three of which were on the road and two of which were played without Carmelo Anthony and his lacerated finger. After opening the season dominantly, New York's defense has settled into on-and-off success, but their offense -- particularly with Jason Kidd in the lineup -- has yet to really falter for any prolonged period.
Right now, the Knicks are the best team in the Eastern Conference: their offense is still the best in the league, efficiency-wise. They have the conference's best record, and their two games against the Heat have been decisive 20-point wins. Its not clear whether they can keep it up - always a worry with one of the oldest teams in league history - but they're playing top-notch basketball without Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert. That's nothing to scoff at.