The Knicks began the season losing eight of their first 11 games, and it seemed as though the team would once again miss the post-season. Although Amar’e Stoudemire was near the top in points per game ranking, the rest of the team was not competing and lacked a sense of focus.
However, just when it seemed as though the Knicks would falter, captains Raymond Felton and Stoudemire took the team on the their shoulders and brought energy back to the Garden. Under the leadership of Felton and Stoudemire, the other Knicks players emerged as potent role players. Rookie Landry Fields earned himself a spot in Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup and his late draft selection was an absolute steal for the Knicks.
Veteran Knicks Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler found their role within the new system and they began to “click” with the plethora of new players. Despite the Knicks’ resurgence and impeccable team chemistry, there were several rumors regarding the Carmelo Anthony and Denver Nuggets. It was clear that the Knicks’ front office still had a bitter taste in its mouth after LeBron signed with the Heat, and another star had to land in New York in order to make a deep playoff run.
On February 21st, 2011 the Knicks finalized the biggest trade in NBA history; New York, Denver and Minnesota agreed on massive exchange which sent Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups to the Knicks for Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and Timofey Mozgov. New York finally saw its dream turn into reality; for the first time in nearly a decade, the Knicks had two legitimate stars and an opportunity to win an NBA championship.
Over night the Knicks expectations soared and many people believed they could challenge the Heat and Bulls in the Eastern Conference. New York had an auspicious start to the post-trade era, with marquee victories in Miami and Atlanta. Although it was mathematically impossible for the Knicks to advance into the top five of the East, there was a possibility that they could fall below the sixth seed.
After the pleasant start of the Carmelo Anthony era, the Knicks began to struggle and lost six consecutive games at one point of the season. As the playoffs approached, the Knicks were not looking like a serious Eastern Conference contenders and many analysts had New York getting dominated in the first round.
However, Carmelo Anthony took more of a leading role in the team’s locker-room and he helped the Knicks to a 7-2 record to end the regular season. The Knicks reclaimed the sixth spot in the Eastern from the Philadelphia 76ers and they were matched up with the struggling Boston Celtics in Round 1.
The New York Knicks have gone through periods of panic and prosperity, but thanks to the the triumvirate of Anthony, Billups and Stoudemire, the Knicks’ chances are looking great heading into the post-season.
Next: Preview of Round 1
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