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Monday, April 4, 2011
Chauncey: I'm finally healthy

By Ian Begley

Chauncey Billups’ thigh feels good. And his feel for the Knicks offense is getting better.

Billups missed six games in early March with a left thigh bruise and had been inconsistent in the games following his March 13th return to the lineup.

But he poured in 33 points in a win over the Nets last Wednesday and had 23 and seven assists against the Cavs on Sunday.

"I’m back healthy finally man,” Billups said on Monday. “I’m healthy and I’m feeling good. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the offense and the sets and personnel. I’m getting to know some of these guys’ different tendencies…. It’s finally starting to come together.”  

AMARE SAYS 2004 IS IRRELEVANT: The last time the Knicks were in the playoffs, they were swept by Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets in the first round in 2004. To Amare Stoudemire, that’s ancient history.

“It’s a different mentality around here now. We all take pride in winning,” Stoudemire said. “With that being said, we’re going to take that confidence into the postseason and see if we can surprise some people.”

Stoudemire was “very emotional” after Sunday’s win over the Cavs. He said he spent time on Sunday night talking with friends and family about the “hard work” it took to get the Knicks turned around.

Stoudemire helped the Knicks rebound from a 3-8 start, leading the team to 13 wins in its next 14 games from late November to mid December. Now, he’s focused on getting the Knicks a playoff win, something they haven’t had since 2001.

New York last won a series in 2000.

IT’S PLAYOFFS OR BUST FOR CARMELO: If the Knicks win three of their final six games, they will finish above .500 for the first time since the 2000-2001 season.

Finishing at or above .500 is a fine benchmark, but Carmelo Anthony believes the barometer for success has changed for the Knicks.

“Anything less than the playoffs is a failure for us from here on out,” Anthony said.

MIAMI OR BOSTON? None of the Knicks would say whether the team prefers to face Boston or Miami in the first round. But, according to Billups, the Knicks matchupwell against both teams.

“With the exception of the last six minutes of the Boston game, we played them pretty well … I think that were playing a lot better in the fourth quarter now. And we’ve got some go to plays to try to close games out now so we may be a little different team than we were,” Billups said. “But I think we match up pretty good with both teams.”

New York is 2-2 against Miami this season and 0-3 against Boston. The conventional thinking is that the Knicks matchup better against the Heat, which, like the Knicks, features a weak front-line.