Finally, It's Time for the Knicks

Season kicks off with a Christmas Day game against the Celtics.

By Josh Alper
|  Sunday, Dec 25, 2011  |  Updated 8:30 AM EDT
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The dynamic duo will finally hit the court on Christmas Day.

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The Knicks have a lot in common with some of New York's other teams right now.

Hearing Mike D'Antoni and Amar'e Stoudemire talk about winning a championship in 2012 feels more like a page out of Rex Ryan's playbook than it does a sober assessment of the team's chances in the NBA this season. The team got a late jump on the season, they're awfully thin and they have a backcourt with a lot of question marks.

In that respect, they look a lot like the Yankees of 2011. If you can remember back to April, the Yankees were being written off in a lot of circles because they had a starting rotation held together with Duct tape and a dream.

Things wound up working out for them because Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova wound up wildly overperforming expectations. The Knicks' hopes for decent play in the backcourt rely on a similar trio.

Baron Davis and Mike Bibby are like Colon and Garcia as they are veterans hoping to rebound from injury and ineffectiveness to give the team solid enough work to let the team's big stars shine. Iman Shumpert is in the Nova role, a mostly unknown quality that could wind up being a big hit if things break the right way.

All of the attention is being paid to those three players because there aren't many doubts about the team's strengths. The Carmelo Anthony/Amar'e Stoudemire/Tyson Chandler trio is the reason why title talk doesn't sound totally ridiculous, even if it will surely take some time for the three of them to figure out the best way to make everything work with so little experience working as a trio.

Anthony looms the largest of the trio because he's going to be crucial for the team's offense while they figure out what's going on in the backcourt. The offense is going to run through him and he's going to need to be the superstar that he was brought to town to be if the team is going to achieve anything close to the audacious goals set out above.

Therein lies another rub, however. D'Antoni has only been successful when his team has been run through a point guard carrying an outsize load (we're including Ray Felton along with Steve Nash here) and he's got a team without a point guard and three good forwards.

The condensed nature of the season means that, like the rest of the team, he will have to figure out a way to make that work on the fly and without much hope of outside assistance. It will be fascinating to see if he can pull off that kind of adjustment to his system.

So, let's cut to the quick. Where are the Knicks going this season?

Winning the Atlantic Division seems like a possibility, especially if an older Boston team succumbs to the pressures of playing a grinding 66-game schedule. That will require at least one of those three guards stepping up and exceeding expectations and, should that happen, the Knicks will be a tough out come playoff time.

But a championship? That seems like a bridge too far without some really unexpected developments on both their roster and around the league.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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