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Watch Out Knicks: Rough Waters Ahead

By Jacob Smith

As the Knicks sit at 11-12, floundering in mediocrity, most fans have found a number of reasons to turn their frown upside down. A cocktail glass-half-full guy myself, the rejuvenation of the franchise under Mike D'Antoni and Donnie Walsh has already begun to rejuvenate my interest in the NBA. I'm sure I speak for other Knicks fans when I say that whatever is brewing in the Mecca these days is leagues and galaxies better than the catastrophe that has been our team in the recent past. D'Antoni is an undeniable improvement over Isaiah, Larry, and the rest of those inept leaders who followed our favorite curmudgeon, Jeff Van Gundy. He has given us reason to turn on MSG on gamenights or even shell out the big bucks to see Al Harrington and the boys launch three after three in person.

The Blue and Orange are one game below .500 and currently tied for the eighth best record in the Eastern Conference. For a fan base used to looking up at the barrel from the bottom, why shouldn't we be proud of the progress our team has made? We have a legitimate point guard, solid wing players, and a couple of good hustle players - guys who might actually sneak us into the playoffs. While the real hope comes with a gaze into the future of the team (See 2010), most of us have been and will continue to be happy to field a competitive team that puts forth effort every night.

However, starting tonight, expect the rain to start pouring down on our parade. Yes, the Knicks have shown the ability to beat teams like Charlotte, Sacramento (our beatdown of the Kings on Saturday got Reggie Theus fired - something to brag about, I guess?) and Washington. But we have only two wins against quality teams in Utah and Detroit, and let's see how much our team really has in the tank tonight and tomorrow, when we go up against some of the best in the West in Phoenix and Los Angeles. These two teams possess the Kryptonite to D'Antoni's run-and-gun fun: monsters like Amare Stoudemire, Shaq, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, guys who can dominate the interior on offense and force the Knicks to bomb jumpers all game on offense (although that's pretty much what we do anyway). The 'Bockers have shown the competency to stay competitive with teams like Boston, Portland and Dallas, but the inexperience that accompanies the eventual losses to such superior squads.

Our schedule gets remarkably harder over the next two months, so I urge you all to continue to see that glass half-full as we undoubtedly hit, and perhaps crash into, that cement wall. Watch tonight and tomorrow, and pay extra attention to Amare Stoudemire, Lamar Odom, and Sasha Vujacic. These guys could end up with New York across their chests before you know it. Harrington has played at an all-star level so far, Chris Duhon has shown consistency and Nate Robinson is getting back into the flow of the offense. David Lee is a double-double machine. So as the waves grow higher and the water gets rougher, look at the positives, the team chemistry and the progress on offense. And while I hope our Knicks will prove me wrong, you might want to avoid looking at the standings - with eight of the next 13 on the road, it might get ugly.

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