They’ve won 13 straight games, Carmelo is playing like a two-way superstar and Ray Felton is back to his best ball. The Manhattan Knicks are firing on all cylinders at the right time of the season and it would seem that the playoffs await.

Which means the question of any Eastern Conference team who hits any sort of form has to be asked.

Are they a legitimate threat to stop the Heat from the Finals?

I want to say no. In my year as a Nets fan, I’ve become quite fond of hating the Knicks, and really they’re a pretty easy team to hate, between Carmelo being a bitch, James Dolan being a moron, Honey Nut Cheerios and any other examples of foolishness that become extra amplified when you’re the MANHATTAN KNICKS! (Side note: If you didn’t realise that I’m deliberately trolling by referring to them as such you’re an idiot. In fact, I don’t even know why I had to point that out.)

In fact, I’ll say it right now. It’s a 90% no.

But…

That 10% is higher, by far, than any other team in the East has. (I give Chicago a 5% chance if Derrick Rose comes back and 0 if he doesn’t and Indiana and Brooklyn 1%. No one else has a shot).

The reason is simple. I don’t like the guy and will never miss a chance to take a pot shot at him, but Carmelo is a superstar. Plain and simple.

The challenge with Melo is never getting him to score. He is possibly the most multi-dimensional pure scorer in the NBA today and will be until Kevin Durant develops a consistent post game. He can hurt you in the block, driving, shooting…but you knew that.

Of course the challenge with Melo is getting him to do the other stuff. Defense, rebounding, getting his teammates involved. However, there’s one thing everyone has to remember. Carmelo Anthony is a show pony. If he’s in a situation where the lights are on him and he knows it’s death or glory…he will do whatever it takes to go for glory. If that means doing the dirty stuff he doesn’t usually like, he’ll do it.

That of course is good for this Knicks team, who (just quietly) are pretty damn well constructed. Donnie Walsh and Glen Grunwald did a pretty good job of finding pieces to fit around Carmelo, from defensive specialists (Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert) to spot up shooters (Steve Novak, Jason Kidd in his current incarnation) and other guys who know their role and fill it. With the benefit of hindsight, even the Jeremy Lin departure doesn’t seem so bad for either party – Lin is continuing his career in Houston and able to do things the more constrained Knicks system under Mike Woodson would not allow him to do.

Ultimately, though, the team rises and falls with Melo.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – you only need the best player in any given series to be on your team to have a real shot of winning in the playoffs.

Now, of course, comes the hard part given that a certain LeBron James is playing the best basketball of anyone we’ve seen since the glory days of Jordan. If he keeps this up during the playoffs, no one can stop Miami. And I mean no one.

But…let’s just say LeBron falls away in the playoffs for whatever reason. Let’s say 100% LeBron James falls down to 80% LeBron. 80% LeBron is still pretty damn good, but not unstoppable. There are a small handful of players who can beat 80% LeBron if they are at 100%. At this moment, Carmelo is one of them.

Let me make myself clear – I’m not saying it will happen. If you put me on the spot, I think the Knicks make the ECF and go down to Miami in 6 games. I don’t see LeBron stopping until the season is over – dude is in the same mode I am when faced with an open bar and any of my ex girlfriends. Unstoppable and ready to destroy all that come in his way.

But, just quietly…for all the remaining Miami haters, your best hope is probably in Madison Square Garden.


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