New York Knicks: Atlantic Division

Melo: Knicks will 'absolutely' make playoffs

August, 18, 2014
Aug 18
The New York Knicks won just 37 games last season. But Carmelo Anthony is confident they’ll make the playoffs this year.

“Yeah, I think so for sure. Absolutely,” Anthony said Monday when asked if the team will play in the postseason, according to the New York Post.

“I can’t wait to get started. No goals. Not setting any goals, but I just can’t wait to get it back on.”

Anthony missed the playoffs for the first time in his career last season when the Knicks stumbled to a ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference. Anthony re-signed with New York over the summer, inking a five-year, $124 million contract.

On Monday, Anthony played a pickup game at the Jordan Gym Terminal 23 on W. 32nd Street, featuring fellow Knicks J.R. Smith and Cleanthony Early, according to the New York Post.

The Knicks added Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert and Shane Larkin in a trade with Dallas and signed Jason Smith in free agency.

Said Anthony, “I’m cool, I’m happy, but I don’t really want to get into details about that.”

Opening Tip: Is it too early to panic?

November, 25, 2013
Mike WoodsonElsa/Getty ImagesMike Woodson's troops have dropped six of their last seven. Is it time to worry?
The Knicks are in an early-season tailspin. They've lost five in a row and six of seven. They've also dropped six straight at home. Players are using buzzwords like "panic" and "pressure" and talking about confidence issues.

But coach Mike Woodson says it's too early for all of that. He thinks it's way too soon for the Knicks to start panicking.

Knicks fans might not want to hear this, but he has a point.

The Knicks (3-9) are fortunate to play in a division in which all the teams are terrible. The Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics are all expected to tank for positioning in the 2014 draft. And the Brooklyn Nets are just as bad as the Knicks, if not worse.

So, as awful as they've been, there's no reason to believe the Knicks can't still compete for the division title. As Woodson is fond of saying, no one is running away with the Atlantic.

Up now: Some players are ready to push the panic button, but Woodson disagrees.

Coming off a strong game Saturday, Amar'e Stoudemire expressed confidence that he can be a great player again. He even holds out hope that he can make the Hall of Fame.

What's next: The Knicks' road trip continues Monday against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers.

Question: Is Woodson right? Is it too early to panic?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Hot Button: Will Knicks stave off Nets?

March, 19, 2013

The Knicks are a game up on the Nets in the Atlantic Division with 17 games to play.
Will they stay in front of Brooklyn to claim their first division crown since 1993-94?
Cast your vote in this week's Hot Button.

View from All-Star: Kiyan and Lin

February, 17, 2013
Kiyan Anthony and Jeremy LinRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesKiyan Anthony, who turns 6 in March, hugs Jeremy Lin.
Wasn't there supposed to be drama between Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin last year?
If so, nobody told Melo's son, Kiyan, who sure seemed happy to see Lin at All-Star Saturday night, greeting the Rockets guard with a big hug.

After the break: 5 things to watch

February, 14, 2013

The Knicks are 32-18 entering the All-Star break, sitting comfortably atop the Atlantic Division. They’re on pace for 52 wins, a number they haven’t reached since 1996-97. But things are far from perfect at 2 Penn Plaza.

Since Dec. 15, New York is just two games over .500. The club has lost three of four heading into the break. As a result, several troubling issues have emerged. And if the Knicks want to be playing at the end of June, those issues need to be addressed in the second half of the season.

Below, we take a look at five things the Knicks need to keep an eye on in the final 32 games of the season:


[+] EnlargeIman Shumpert
Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsMike Woodson wants Iman Shumpert to "do some dirty work" in the second half.
In the first nine games of the season, the Knicks played near flawless defense. They ranked fourth in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) and sixth in opponent field goal percentage en route to an 8-1 start. Since then, they’ve ranked 19th in defensive rating and 22nd in opponent field-goal percentage (46.3 percent).

Not pretty.

Mike Woodson said fine-tuning the Knicks' D will be his top priority in the second half.

“That’s going to be the focal point coming back after the break,” Woodson said.


Second-year guard Iman Shumpert just hasn’t been himself since coming back from ACL surgery on Jan. 17. Of course, it’s understandable Shumpert would be a step slow: He spent eight months rehabbing after surgery.

Still, Shumpert was viewed as a cure to the Knicks' shortcomings on defense, particularly on the perimeter and against the pick-and-roll. That hasn’t happened. The Knicks have been routinely torched by point guards in games before the break (see Holiday, Jrue and Teague, Jeff for two examples).

What does Woodson want to see from Shumpert in the second half?

“Play defense. Rebound the basketball and do some dirty work,” the coach said.


[+] EnlargeJason Kidd
Greg M. Cooper/US PresswireWill Jason Kidd end up on the Knicks' bench?
In order to jump-start the Knicks on defense, Woodson many opt to move Ronnie Brewer to the starting lineup and shift Jason Kidd to the bench.

Putting Brewer in the starting five would give Woody two strong perimeter defenders on the floor to start the game.

The potential problem: Brewer has struggled to make shots. In order to start, Brewer needs to knock down the open shot. That’s something Kidd has struggled with lately. The 39-year-old was scoreless in 32 minutes on Wednesday night and is averaging just 2.6 points in 26 minutes per game over his past five outings. Yikes.

Said Woodson: “He’s missed some good shots here as of late, some really open shots. He’ll make them eventually.”


With Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby out, the Knicks have had a tough time guarding the paint when Tyson Chandler's on the bench.

When Chandler’s on the floor, the Knicks' rebounding rate, or percentage of missed shots rebounded, is 44.8. When he’s off the floor, it falls to 40.6.

With Chandler out there, the Knicks’ scoring differential per 100 possessions is +7.6. When he’s off the floor, the Knicks are being outscored by two points per 100 possessions.

With Wallace (stress reaction in left foot) and Camby (left plantar fascia) back, these numbers should even out a bit. Woodson expects Wallace to return to practice after the break. Camby’s status is less certain.

When both are healthy, they should help Amar'e Stoudemire defend the paint for the Knicks' second unit.


Despite their recent struggles, the Knicks remain a confident bunch. From Woodson on down, the team believes it has a legitimate shot to compete for an NBA title.

Yes, that means they think they can beat the Heat. Miami is red-hot of late, going 8-2 in its past 10 games. And, oh by the way, Miami is led by the best player on the planet playing the best basketball of his career. The Knicks trail LeBron James and the Heat by 3 1/2 games in the Eastern Conference. While keeping an eye on the Heat, the Knicks will also have to watch their backs because they have a few teams creeping up behind them.

Central Division foes Chicago and Indiana are both within three games of the Knicks and are awaiting the return of a marquee player in the second half (for Chicago, it's Derrick Rose; Indy's waiting on Danny Granger). Brooklyn's been up and down but is 2 1/2 games back of New York.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Knicks know Nets are Atlantic threat

January, 21, 2013
Brooklyn NetsAP Photo/Kathy WillensAfter beating the Knicks on Monday, the Nets are just one game back in the Atlantic.
The East River Rivalry may be done for the year, but the battle for the Atlantic Division crown is just getting started.

The Knicks lead the Nets by just one game in the Atlantic after their 88-85 loss to Brooklyn on Monday -- and many Knicks figure they'll be locked in a tight race with Brooklyn (and maybe Boston, too) for the rest of the way.

"We don't think they're going to go away or get bad all of a sudden. We have the mindset that it's going to be a battle until the end," Steve Novak said after the Nets tied the season series, 2-2.

"[Finishing] 2-2 against them stinks," J.R. Smith said. "It's like kissing your sister."

With Monday's loss, the Knicks have dropped four of six and are just 5-6 in their past 11. The last time they played the Nets, on Dec. 19, they walked off the Garden floor with a win (their 10th in 12 games) and a six-game lead in the division.

Clearly, things have changed since that mid-December game.

"I think it’s going to be a nice fight down the stretch for the division," Tyson Chandler said. "It’s good for New York basketball."

Mike Woodson's stated goal from Day 1 has been to win the Atlantic and gain home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Knicks and Nets finish the season in a first-place tie (we know, there are 43 games to play), the next tiebreaker is division record.

The Knicks are 4-3 in the Atlantic. Brooklyn is 9-3.

"We've just got to figure out a way to win more games," Smith said. "We have Boston coming up [on Thursday]. We've got to get that one in Boston. We know it's going to be tough, but we've got to figure some way to grind it out."

For Carmelo Anthony, Monday's loss was a sour way to end what had been a string of strong performances against the Nets.

Anthony came into the Martin Luther King Day matinee averaging 37 points in three games against Brooklyn. But the Knicks star missed 18 of his 29 attempts on Monday, including a missed baseline jumper with 12.5 seconds to play and the Nets up by one.

"I didn’t execute. I didn’t make shots down the stretch, shots I know I can make, I normally make. It is what it is about that," Anthony said. "It’s over. We don’t see the [Nets] anymore."

That may be true, at least for the regular season, but the Knicks would be wise to keep an eye on them in the standings.

By the Knumbers: Smith's comfort zone

December, 28, 2012
What the shot chart shows
The game-ending shot that J.R. Smith hit to beat the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday was (believe it or not), the kind of shot the Knicks would seem to want from Smith.

As the shot chart above shows, Smith is 15-for-26 on mid-range baseline (and slightly extended out) jumpers from the left side this season.

Shots from that area have become more of a part of Smith's game than they were last season. Last year, he only took 11 shots from that location, making four of them. Last season, that was a location from which Smith would shoot about once every three games. Now, he's taking about one per game from there.

3 stats of note on the Felton injury
A few observations to go with what Jared Zwerling wrote about Felton’s absence on Thursday:

1. One of the things that may happen as a result of Felton’s injury is that the Knicks may have to come up with some other scoring options other than Anthony and Smith in the fourth quarter of close games.

Jason Kidd has thrived in the role of secondary option in those instances. He’s 7-for-14 and 5-for-9 from 3-point range (including the game-winning four-point play against the Brooklyn Nets) in the fourth quarter or overtime when the score has been within five points one way or the other.

Felton may be well-served to watch Kidd’s decision-making. Felton is 8-for-35 on shots in that same timeframe.

2. Kidd and Pablo Prigioni may have to play together a little bit more often. This hasn’t necessarily been the best combination so far. In the 89 minutes the pair have played together, the Knicks have been outscored by two points.

3. Increased playing time for Prigioni may be a benefit to Smith.

Smith is shooting 45 percent (and 49 percent from 3-point range) with Prigioni on the court and 37 percent with Felton on the floor. And there has been little difference in how the Knicks have fared (in terms of plus-minus) with either of those two combos.

Inside the buzzer-beater
Smith’s game-winner was his second buzzer-beater of the season. Prior to that, the Knicks hadn’t had a buzzer-beating shot since Steve Francis hit one against the Washington Wizards in 2007. It was the sixth buzzer-beater in the NBA this season, matching the total from all of last season.

The Knicks have nine buzzer-beaters since the start of the 2004-05 season. That’s the second most in the NBA in that span, trailing only the Boston Celtics. The Suns have allowed eight, tied for the second most in that time.

Smith became the first Knicks guard to score at least 27 points without making a 3-pointer since Stephon Marbury (also against the Suns) in 2005.

Jared Dudley scored 36 points in the loss. The last three times a Suns player has scored at least that many against the Knicks, the Suns lost the game. Their last win against the Knicks, with a player scoring 36 or more, came in 1989, when Tom Chambers had 36 in a 132-130 victory.

Inside the Knumbers: Knicks' first 3 wins

November, 6, 2012

Each week throughout the season, we'll take a closer look at the Knicks performance from both a statistical and analytical perspective, with help from tools such as

Trip through the history books
There are historical precedents for a successful season after a 3-0 start, though that shouldn’t be that surprising.

We’ve got the Knicks for 10 starts of 3-0 or better in their history (which dates to 1946-47). In the previous six 3-0s, the Knicks won at least 50 games five times and averaged 53.7 wins.

The only one of those seasons in which the Knicks didn’t win 50 games was 1976-77, they went 40-42.

The cool stat will be if the Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks to get to 4-0. The previous two 4-0 starts came in the championship season of 1969-70 and the near-championship season of 1993-94.

What the shot chart shows
Atop this article is a Sportscenter Shooting Zone Chart, showing the Knicks' shooting successes (many) and failures (few) through the first three games.

The Knicks have shot lights-out from all areas behind the 3-point line, en route to making what Elias notes are the most 3-pointers in a team’s first three games (43) in NBA history.

The Knicks have six players with at least five 3-point makes, including J.R. Smith, who is 8-for-13. Smith closed 2011-12 with a very unmemorable 5-for-28 from 3-point range in the playoffs.

After going 11-for-27 (41 percent) inside the paint in the season opener against the Heat, the Knicks went 34-for-55 (62 percent) in the paint in the two games against the 76ers. That included the second and third quarters of Sunday’s win, in which the Knicks were a perfect 10-for-10

The player for whom that made a big difference was Carmelo Anthony, who was 2-for-10 in the paint against the Heat, but then went 8-for-12 with four paint baskets in each of the Knicks wins over the 76ers.

The Knicks' one weakness this season has been the mid-range left-side two-pointer.

That’s the gray area in which the team is 4-for-14 from the baseline and 2-for-13 from the left of the lane. Anthony and Smith are each 2-for-8 in shots in those areas.

Standing their ground
Much has been made about the Knicks improved defensive effort in their first three games. Of particular note is that in the same area in which the Knicks have not hit shots, opponents have also failed to do so.

In that left-side area, inside the 3-point line, Knicks opponents are just 8-for-32 in three games.

Numbers of note
Friday’s win:The opening-night win over the Heat was a very odd one in that the Knicks won by shooting 53 percent from 3-point range and only 35.4 percent on 2-point shots.

The Knicks are only the fourth team since the 1999-2000 season to make at least 15 3-pointers, shoot at least 50 percent on their 3-pointers, and shoot 36 percent or worse on their 2s in a regular-season game.

Coincidentally, the last team to do such a thing was the Heat in April 2008 against the Washington Wizards

Sunday’s win: The victory over the 76ers made Mike Woodson 20-6 in the regular season as Knicks head coach dating back to last season. That’s the quickest a Knicks coach has ever won his first 20 games with the team, surpassing the 29-game mark of Pat Riley.

Monday’s win: The Knicks were 19-for-19 from the foul line in Philadelphia, their best run of perfection since going 26-for-26 against the Washington Wizards on April 20, 2005.

Also of note: The Knicks' 22-point margin of victory was their largest road win in Philadelphia since Feb. 9, 1994 (114-79), and their second-largest there in the last 37 years.

Kidd: Atlantic Division rules

October, 29, 2012
Jason Kidd's played six of his 18 NBA seasons in the Atlantic Division. He's seen some of the best (the 2002-'03 Nets) and some of the worst (the '05-'06 Raptors) the division's had to offer.

This year, Kidd thinks the Atlantic is the best division in the NBA.

And he's got a point.

The Knicks, if healthy, have a great depth and one of the NBA's best scorers in Carmelo Anthony.

The Celtics are the Celtics. Sure, they lost Ray Allen but they replaced him with Jason Terry; they also have a healthy Jeff Green and have added Courtney Lee.

The Nets retained Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace and added Joe Johnson.

The Sixers, of course, added Andrew Bynum who, if healthy, is one of the top centers in the NBA.

Heck, even Toronto got better by adding Kyle Lowry and, gulp, Landry Fields.

"We happen to be in the toughest division, the Atlantic," Kidd said of the Knicks. "We've got four or five teams that can easily win the division. We got our work cut out for us. We feel we’re going to be right there at the end of the day. That’s our goal."

Fans of the Rockets or Spurs may argue that the Southwest Division is the toughest in the league. Maybe those who root for Oklahoma City would claim that the Northwest is the best.

Question: What do you think? Do you agree with Kidd? Is the Atlantic Division the toughest in the league?

Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.

Three reasons Knicks are better than Nets

October, 29, 2012
Whether the words are coming from the owner or one of the star players, the Brooklyn Nets have been talking about taking over the city for a while now.

Will it happen in their first year in the Big Apple? Don't think so.

Here are three reasons why the Knicks will remain the most relevant team in New York in 2012-13:

1. DE-FENSE! The strength of this Knicks team -- from the head coach on down -- is on the defensive end. Last season, the Knicks finished in the top 10 in several defensive categories, including fifth in defensive efficiency -- a measure of opponents' points per 100 possessions. This season, the first full campaign under Mike Woodson, the Knicks should be as good, if not better.

Free agent addition Ronnie Brewer is a defensive stopper and Marcus Camby will provide Tyson Chandler with a legitimate backup center this year (if, of course, his calf injury can fully heal).

The Nets, on the other hand, are expected to struggle to get stops, especially on the interior. Brook Lopez and Andray Blatche don't exactly inspire fear in the paint. Reggie Evans does, but he can't do it all down there.

2. MELO > D-WILL: Entering his third year in New York, Carmelo Anthony knows the lay of the land. On the eve of the 2012-13 season, Anthony seems comfortable with all that comes with being a star athlete in the Big Apple. "I can just focus on basketball now," he said recently. That's a good thing for the Knicks, and a bad thing for the rest of the Atlantic Division.

Anthony has vowed to sacrifice scoring for wins -- he says he became more comfortable with the idea of trusting his teammates over the summer while playing with Team USA in London. If Anthony can improve ball movement and keep his teammates involved -- something that hasn't always happened in his first nine years in the league -- the Knicks will benefit. And Anthony could emerge as an MVP candidate.

Deron Williams, the Nets' best player, is a fantastic talent. But you'd think his ankle injury -- which he said recently may require offseason surgery -- will limit him at points during the season. And with Williams out or at less than 100%, the Nets are a different team.

3. AGE IS A VIRTUE: Again and again, the Knicks have been knocked for the older veterans they brought in over the summer. Jason Kidd, 39, Marcus Camby, 38, Rasheed Wallace, 38 and Kurt Thomas, 40, are in the twilight of their respective careers. But for a Knicks team centered around Anthony, Stoudemire and -- to a lesser extent -- Ray Felton, that veteran presence will be a benefit (both on and off the court). These guys know how to play the NBA game and, if healthy (admittedly, a big if), they'll know what to do to complement the Knicks' younger pieces.

This is in contrast to the Nets.

Brooklyn will need some time to develop chemistry and cohesion after overhauling their roster in drastic fashion (even more drastically than the Knicks) over the summer.

Opening Tip: Can the Knicks win Atlantic?

October, 19, 2012
Every weekday throughout the season, will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our “Opening Tip” segment.

Today’s Burning Question: Can the Knicks win the Atlantic Division this season?

Carmelo Anthony hasn't made any guarantees before the season starts. During a recent sit-down interview with, the Knicks forward said he expected the parity of the Atlantic Division to match the Pacific Divison when he played for the Nuggets.

“(The Atlantic) is wide open,” he said. “I’ve been in the Western Conference for seven and a half years, and every year that’s how it was. Two games separate everybody. You lose one, you fall back, so it keeps you on edge. Now in the East, it seems like that’s the new trend. As long as we do what we have to do, we’ll be fine.”

How the Knicks can establish an advantage in the Atlantic Division:

1. Celtics: While Boston compensated well for the short and long-term losses of Avery Bradley and Ray Allen, who is their backup point guard?

Boston will lean on Rajon Rondo to play heavy minutes, and that may backfire later in the season. In addition to Rondo’s workload, the age of Paul Pierce (35) and Kevin Garnett (36) always plays a factor. Overall, the Celtics’ situation is very similar to the Knicks’; if both teams stay healthy, and Bradley and Iman Shumpert recover well from their injuries, the two longtime rivals should be favorites for the top seed.

2. Nets: While Brooklyn has an All-Star backcourt in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, how will their front court benefit?

The bigger question for Brooklyn is whether or not Brook Lopez, coming off a foot injury, can contribute on offense and on the boards while staying out of foul trouble. Overall, the Nets are deep offensively, but they’ll have to prove themselves on defense.

Although the Nets have D-Will, the Knicks have more depth and experience at point guard, which will boost the team's frontcourt production immediately. Brooklyn's backcourt and frontcourt, on the other hand, will need some more time to develop, especially because it's younger.

3. Sixers: It’ll be interesting to see how Philly jells its new pieces this season.

The 76ers essentially have two different offensive systems: one through center Andrew Bynum and the other through the team’s young perimeter players. If Philadelphia finds a solid offensive balance, the team should be able to score enough points to win most games.

The 76ers' 3-point shooting from Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson will especially make this team dangerous. But losing Andre Iguodala left a big hole on the perimeter. That assignment is now for Turner, who in his third season will be expected to be the team’s main wing player. Depending on how he plays will be key to the team's success.

4. Raptors: The Raptors shouldn’t be knocking too loud on any team's doors this season.

They’re a fairly young team, and star players Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan are still ironing out their chemistry. There’s also concern about Bargnani’s bruised left calf, which cost him 35 games last season. Bargnani admitted that he didn’t come into training camp 100 percent. If the power forward does find his groove, the team's solid point guard trio, featuring Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon and John Lucas III should help him.

Do you think the Knicks can win the Atlantic? Leave us your comments below.

Woody: Home court 'huge' in tough Atlantic

October, 4, 2012
GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Any passionate Knicks fan remembers how frustrating it was when the team lost three games early last season to lottery-bounders: the Warriors, Raptors and Bobcats.

Some of them even made it known on Twitter regularly that the Knicks were losing to average teams way too often, and letting an average player, like the Bucks' Mike Dunleavy on March 26, go off at the Garden.

Well, if these winnable games escape the Knicks this season, there's going to be a whole lot more frustration, because a couple of wins could separate the third seed from the seventh.

That's how much more competitive the Atlantic Divison is going to be -- arguably the top division in the NBA, where every team (the Knicks, Nets, Celtics, Sixers and Raptors) has upgraded and could make the playoffs.

After practice on Thursday, Mike Woodson said winning every game is especially paramount to secure home court in the postseason.

"It's going to be more important that we establish our home court advantage. That's going to be huge," he said. "We've got to use the Garden as our friend and our family in terms of how we can compete on a night-in and night-out basis. I mean, we can't let teams come in the Garden and win, and then when we get out on the road, we've got to figure out that."

Carmelo Anthony compared the division this season to the one he played in with the Nuggets -- and he said it encouraged his team to play harder every game.

"(The Atlantic) is wide open," he told last week. "I've been in the Western Conference for seven and a half years, and every year that's how it was. Two games separate everybody. You lose one, you fall back, so it keeps you on edge. Now in the East, it seems like that's the new trend. As long as we do what we have to do, we'll be fine."

Novak agreed with Anthony that the added competition will add extra motivation.

"I think it's going to be an incredible division, and that's the way we want it," he told during the offseason. "That's when it's at its best. That's when the fans are able to enjoy it the most, and when there's teams that are truly neck-in-neck like that, that'll just make us more and more ready for every game. It's great."

The Knicks have the offensive and defensive pieces in place to "complete the team puzzle," as Woodson always says, but with the older age of the roster, he knows he has to keep his guys healthy for them to have a shot at winning the division. Last year, while suffering some injuries, the Knicks fell just a couple of games short to the Celtics.

"This is a situation where I've got guys that know how to play," Woody said, "but I've just got to gauge it and pace it, and put them in the right position to be successful."

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.



Carmelo Anthony
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2