Who remembers back to early December? The New York Knicks were 14-4 with two (not one, not three, not four) 20-point victories over the Miami Heat.
I do not think anyone was crowning the Knicks the Eastern Conference champs at that point, but there was some hope that they could at least give the Heat a good run.
Fast forward to today where the Knicks are still a respectable 38-25, but they have lost four of their last five and injuries are really taking their toll.
Carmelo Anthony has been in and out of the lineup with a knee injury. Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to be out six weeks or longer with a knee problem of his own. Tyson Chandler has now sat out a game with a minor injury. The three highest paid players on the team are all missing time, and it is starting to show in the Knicks’ performance.
Not only have they lost four out of five, but they have lost by an average margin of 17 points in those games (and it is only that low because of a one-point loss to Oklahoma City).
There seems to be a lot of uncertainty surrounding Anthony’s injury, which is really going to cause the team problems because they will not know what to expect and prepare for. Anthony flew back to New York to have his knee drained after Wednesday's loss to Denver but could rejoin the team in Los Angeles for Sunday's game against the Clippers.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson is definitely concerned about the injury to his star player, but also the team’s performance overall.
When a key guy goes down that's a big piece, a major piece to your puzzle, sure you've got to worry," Woodson said. "There's no doubt I'm worried. There's no doubt that I'm worried about Carmelo. But I'm worried about our team as a whole with how we're playing. Coming out of that Utah game at home these past two games have been a nightmare for all of us."
The Knicks have to finish up a five-game road trip against the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz, which will be two tough games if they cannot get a little bit healthier.
The injury to Stoudemire is tough, but they can win without him if they get Anthony and Chandler back to full strength. That would allow them to make a strong push to the postseason and then maybe have Amar’e rejoin the team and slide back into his role coming off the bench.
It is not panic time for the Knicks just yet, but they have to hope they can right the ship before the playoffs get here, or else it will be another early summer in New York.
Image: NY Daily News