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What has been the biggest reason for the New York Knicks 5 game winning streak?
Joe Caporoso - Despite not having Tyson Chandler, the Knicks have found a way to play with improved energy and efficiency on defense. The surprising contributions of Kenyon Martin combined the slowly returning athleticism of Iman Shumpert has spearheaded this turnaround. When Chandler returns, the Knicks defense should only improve, allowing them to be a clear favorite against whomever they play in the first round. Offensively, the insertion of Pablo Prigioni into the starting line-up has created more fluid ball movement and easier looks for the Knicks at the basket. Finally, you cannot ignore the changed man JR Smith has been the past five games. He isn’t settling for three pointers, is constantly attacking the basket and has continued to bring strong effort on the boards and defense. When the Knicks have “Good JR” they are a damn tough team to beat.
Chris Celletti – The Knicks’ offense has been very efficient over the past five games. You’ll recall out west that there was some pretty shoddy defense, but what was glossed over a bit was the fact that the Knicks were also putting together some offensive performances that were legendarily horrible. That’s changed over the past five games for a few reasons. Firstly, the Knicks have inserted Pablo Prigioni into the starting lineup, alongside fellow point guard Raymond Felton. Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal explains why the Knicks have been so successful when they play with two points on the floor a lot better than I can, but what’s evident to the naked eye is some improvement in ball movement and a return to success in pick-and-rolls. Prigioni specifically has shined in p-and-r’s, setting up a lot of easy baskets for the likes of Kenyon Martin and Chris Copeland. Getting production up and down the roster always helps. And then of course there’s been the return of Carmelo Anthony, who, notwithstanding last night’s 10-for-30, has been efficient and productive on both ends of the floor.
Chris DiGioia - If you were to tell me that the Knicks would be on this impressive win streak with Tyson Chandler healing up from a neck injury, I’d be incredibly bewildered. With Head Coach Mike Woodson scattering to put together lineups to give this team the best chance to win, one player particularly has stood out to me. Kenyon Martin. Martin has looked nothing short of spry since his increased workload with Chandler out, taking full advantage of the opportunity. Martin is cleaning up the glass with put-back dunks, slashing to the hoop creating easy lay-ups, and bringing the defensive tenacity so many fans were afraid would be non-existent without the reigning defensive player of the year.
JR Smith has played lights out, coming off a 32-point performance against the Boston Celtics last night. Smith is shooting the ball with more confidence, creating an energy that’s resonated with the entire team. Jason Kidd is contributing from three-point land, and Iman Shumpert has been all over the court when it comes to defense and rebounding. We haven’t even mentioned All-Star Carmelo Anthony, but we clearly know what he brings to the table.
Matt Fritz - To me, the main reason for this Knicks 5 game winning streak has been the overall play on the defensive end of the floor. You really could see this come out in their latest win, last night in Boston, giving up just 85 points. In their 5 game winning streak, the Knicks have not given up more than 94 points, and have held opponents under 90 points in three out of those five games. I think this recent surge on defense has been particularly headed by the emergence of Kenyon Martin. Since Tyson Chandler’s injury, Martin has stepped up big time on defense, grabbing rebounds and making his presence felt. He may not be as tall and as long as Chandler is, and he most certainly is not the defensive player he is, but his play has been fantastic. On top of the Knicks recent success on defense, what I really noticed, especially in last nights victory in Boston, is the sense of urgency you can feel with this team. I think they are starting to realize the importance of carrying some momentum into the postseason, as well as securing home court advantage by winning the Atlantic Division and finishing as the number 2 seed. Hopefully this sense of urgency and consistent play on defense will continue and allow the Knicks to get to where the they want to be.
Tim Murray - When the Knicks took a big hit to their front-court it seemed like their interior defense would suffer greatly without their big man Tyson Chandler, but players have stepped up in his absence. On the defensive end the 2000 NBA Draft’s first overall selection, Kenyon Martin has really stepped up his game threatening opponents on the drive and forcing them to improvise.
On the offensive end putting Pablo Prigioni in the starting lineup to compliment Raymond Felton in their two point guard set has proven to be quite successful. Prigioni is more mobile than Kidd at this point allowing the Knicks to get more out of pick-n-roll situations. J.R. Smith seems to have stepped up his offensive mind. His shot selection has been the best it has been all season during this five-game stretch and he appears to be attacking the basket head on more often than he used to as he often puts his back to the basket. Overall, the Knicks just appear to have a more polished offense.
Although the Knicks have faced the issue before of what will happen when a player (Amar’e Stoudemire) comes back from injury and may mess up their flow, I don’t believe Tyson Chandler is like that. I believe Chandler will come back, resume his role and the other players will maintain their newly found mindsets that they developed in his absence. It would be a great situation as the Knicks continue to fight for that second playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Kevin Smith - In the media microscope known as New York City, we tend to look in to things a little too deeply. Just as much as the Knicks recent downslide was attributed to a little bad luck, this win streak comes thanks in part to a little good luck. At their worst this season, the Knicks lost Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire within a few days of each other, but now things are starting to go their way. They were able to handily beat Toronto in back to back games after Rudy Gay left the first half of the first game with injury and this week will face the Celtics twice without Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett. Obviously not everything has to do with luck. The Knicks look to have stopped coming out flat for the time being and despite missing Chandler, their defense hasn’t been half bad. The lengthy NBA schedule is not about who you play, but when you play them, and with things now trending up in New York, hopefully the Knicks can keep up the momentum.