- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Phil Jackson hasn’t been around the Knicks for very long.
But he’s seen enough to believe that the Knicks can make some noise if they make it into the postseason.
Tyson Chandler has repeatedly said that if the Knicks can get into the playoffs, teams won’t want to face them in the first round. Jackson agreed.
"Well, with J.R. [Smith] playing at the level he’s playing at now, yes," Jackson said. "When Carmelo [Anthony] had to carry the load in scoring, a lot of times on his own back and other people weren’t stepping in to helping him carry that load, which Amar'e [Stoudemire] and J.R. have done, it could be a struggle. But now they have more than one option out there on the floor and I think that we’ll give teams trouble."
Jackson has been checking in on the Knicks daily. While he said his job is not to travel every week with the team, Jackson said he will be at every playoff game if the Knicks get in.
Seeing the Knicks under the playoff microscope should reveal even more about the players as Jackson continues to assess the roster.
"You're playing a team in a seven-game series," Jackson said of being able to learn about a team in a playoff environment. "You're really seeing who’s going to be attacked, how they stand up to the pressure, who performs in the critical situations, what the grind of a multiple-game series does to a team and how they react to it.
"Those are all valuable lessons," Jackson continued. "Some of them specifically have cost players jobs and roles because people have seen their weaknesses as a team and sometimes it's not totally fair. Sometimes the matchups are just beyond the level of the team or the player to control by himself and it has to be a group effort. But those are things that ultimately come out in the playoffs because it extrudes the most out of a team."
Jackson pointed out that one player he learned a great deal about during a playoff run with the Bulls in 1994 was Ron Harper. Perhaps a Knick who has struggled for much of this season will emerge in the playoffs and show Jackson something for the future.
"One of the players that we picked up as a free agent back in ’94 to fill the gap that Michael [Jordan] left behind was Ronnie Harper," Jackson said. "And Ronnie struggled for a year, but in the playoffs that year, he kind of figured out how he could fit in with the team and really solidify his role, which then lasted through championships and also with the Lakers, he had a big role with us.”
2dIan O'Connor, ESPN Senior Writer