2: Eastern Conference contenders are struggling
Although the Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers are a combined 17-5, the rest of the East's elite haven't hit the ground running. The Milwaukee Bucks are 7-4, as superstars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard are still getting used to playing alongside one another.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won 51 games last season, but the team has gotten off to a 5-6 start to the year. Stretch big Georges Niang, who Cleveland signed to a three-year contract worth $26 million in free agency, is averaging just 6.4 points per game while shooting a mere 28.6% from three.
The Cavaliers have a net rating of -1.5 through 11 games, according to NBA.com. That ranks 19th among all teams.
The Miami Heat have started the season with a respectable 8-4 record after making the Eastern Conference Finals last year. However, Tyler Herro suffered an ankle sprain against the Memphis Grizzlies in Miami's eighth game of the season that will likely keep him sidelined for a few weeks.
Prior to the Grizzlies game, Herro's scoring average of 25.3 points per game was the highest mark on the team. Backup forward Caleb Martin, whose defense and three-point shooting were crucial to Miami during last year's playoffs, missed 11 games due to a knee injury.
It's fair to wonder if the Heat can consistently find ways to win games without one of their top complementary players.
This isn't to say that the Knicks should be able to effortlessly climb up to third place in the East, as teams such as the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic have already outperformed expectations through the first few weeks of the season and should present an intriguing challenge for New York. However, it helps that they're still within striking distance of many of the conference's top squads.