New York Knicks At The Quarter-Pole: Do You Believe Yet?

-- See Posting and Toasting for complete Knicks discussion and analysis

Do you believe in the New York Knicks yet? I know that isn't an easy thing to do with a team that has been terrible for so long, not having made the NBA playoffs since the 2003-2004 and having been an NBA laughingstock much of that time. It might, however, be time to take them seriously again.

The Knicks are 12-9 and will be seeking their fifth straight victory tonight when they host the 5-15 Minnesota Timberwolves. Since falling to 3-8 the Knicks have won nine of 10. If the playoffs began today the Knicks would be the sixth seed in the eight-team Eastern Conference playoff.

A very fired-up Ryan Schneider had this to say over at CBS New York:

The New York Knicks are the hottest team in the NBA. Think about that... the NEW YORK KNICKS... the hottest team in basketball right now. When was the last time you could say that? When was the last time you turned on MSG expecting a win? After a decade long wait, the Knicks are relevant again.

Throw out an argument. Even Knick haters can't do it. They haven't played anyone good in the last three weeks? You're right they haven't played the upper echelon teams in the NBA yet... but you know what? The Knicks are taking care of the teams they should beat. And regardless of what you haters may say about strength of schedule... what about the Hornets win Friday night? They were one of the best teams in the league at defending their home-court (8-1 at home heading into the game), and the Knicks took care of business.

Would you believe this? The blue and orange have matched their longest road winning streak since the '94-'95 season. Really? 9-4 on the road? The mark of a good team... getting W's away from home.

To be honest it is pretty hard to argue with any of that.

This Knick team is led by the best player to call Madison Square Garden home since Patrick Ewing -- Amare Stoudemire. In naming Stoudemire SB Nation NY Player of the Week for scoring more than 30 points in all three games as the Knicks went unbeaten last week, Jeff Freier wrote "He's rebounding, he's astounding and he's confounding" in reference to Stoudemire.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News compared Stoudemire to the beloved David Lee, who was traded to Golden State after Stoudemire signed as a free agent.

I admire STAT (Stoudemire's nickname). He puts up gaudy numbers as well but he also wins. He’s a difference maker. And go back to some of those early season home losses to Philadelphia and Houston. Stoudemire was sick to his stomach and wasn’t afraid to call out his teammates. That's a true franchise player.

Someone has to score for a losing team. That’s what Lee did. Stoudemire scores for a team that wins. And he makes everybody - Landry Fields, Raymond Felton and Ronny Turiaf - look better.

Now I understand why Stoudemire picked No. 1 for his uniform. It fits perfectly.

Stoudemire is averaging 24.9 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He is hardly the only reason the Knicks have been playing well, however. Raymond Felton (18.1 ppg, 8.3 assists), Wilson Chandler (16.9 points, 6.0 rebounds), Danilo Gallinari (15 points, 4.6 rebounds) and Landry Fields (10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds) have all been consistent contributors.

As the New York Times did recently, you can look at the Knicks' record to date and say they have played a weak schedule. Or, you can look at it and say they are winning on the road. Both of these things are true. If you are looking at them, though -- or paying attention to this -- that proves the point. The Knicks are relevant again in the NBA.

"I think we can get even better, no question about that," Felton said. "We don't want to be complacent and be settled with where we're at right now just because we're winning. We want to continue to still get better, no matter what.

They have been pretty good so far. With very winnable games this week against Minnesota, Toronto and at Washington, the Knicks could continue to make people take notice.



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