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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Magic: Knicks will finish 3rd in East

By Ian Begley

Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about talented NBA teams.

After all, he played on five world champions.

So when he talks about the Knicks being a contender in the East, it holds credence.

Johnson, an ESPN analyst, said on Tuesday that he expects New York to battle Chicago and Miami for the Eastern Conference title. He believes they will ultimately finish third. But first, the new-look Knicks -- with a bunch of new pieces -- will struggle through some chemistry issues.

"I believe once they get that down, they're going to be battling right there with Chicago and Miami for the Eastern Conference championship," Johnson said on a conference call Tuesday to talk about the upcoming slate of games on Christmas Day.

Johnson believes the Knicks are one of league's most improved teams after acquiring Tyson Chandler in a sign and trade and picking up Baron Davis for the league minimum.

"I think that once Baron Davis gets healthy, they're going to cause some real problems in the East," Johnson said of Davis, who is currently sidelined with a back injury.

Of course, there will be chemistry issues to overcome, according to Johnson. Mainly, Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony need to figure out how to play with each other. At times last season, Johnson said, the Knicks' duo struggled together on the court.

"If you're not in sync with one another, they're going to struggle early on," Johnson said. "So I think the fans have to be patient. Because when you think about bringing in a key player like Tyson Chandler [along with Anthony and Stoudemire] it's going to take a while for them to understand how to play with each other."

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