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Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Opening Tip: Change in expectations?

By Jared Zwerling

Tyson Chandler
Will Tyson Chandler's Knicks rise above expectations this season?
Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's Burning Question: Have your expectations for the Knicks changed?

When the Knicks reassembled their roster in the offseason, adding more seasoned depth and veteran leadership, expectations immediately changed.

After two consecutive first-round playoff appearances, another wouldn't cut it looking ahead to the 2012-13 season. Talk turned to the Eastern Conference finals, if good health remained on the team's side, which hadn't been the case in the past two years in the postseason.

But now that the Knicks are 12-4 and leading the Atlantic Division, has their ceiling changed? Will the NBA Finals soon be in the conversation?

Let's face it: While Carmelo Anthony is playing like an MVP and the Knicks have a few other All-Star-caliber players in their prime, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby and maybe even Amar'e Stoudemire's time is running out. There is a lot at stake this season, but at the same time, they'll soon have the best depth in the NBA when Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert return likely in late December and January, respectively.

While the Heat remain at the top, the Knicks will still have tough tests going through Boston or Brooklyn first. For the past few years, the Celtics have had the Knicks' number, and the Nets took a game from them last week, proving to be a viable threat.

Eventually, Mike Woodson will have plenty of defensive pieces and lineups to throw at those different teams, which feature one or two elite, versatile players. While opponents will want to try to wear down Melo, the Knicks may be able to do it better because of that depth.

For example, in one game, LeBron James could see Anthony, J.R. Smith and Ronnie Brewer -- all very capable defenders -- and then a mixture of Tyson Chandler, Stoudemire, Wallace and Camby down low. Having experienced players who have either been to or won on the Finals stage will be a big boost.

But what could be their best asset heading into the playoffs is their home record. Currently, they're 7-0, which is second-best in the Eastern Conference after the Heat (8-0). If the Knicks continue to play like the second seed in the East, that home-court advantage will be invaluable.

Have your feelings changed about how far you think the Knicks can go this season? Leave us your comments below.

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