The NBA season is here. With that in mind, it is time to flip through the book on the 2012-13 season and to take a look at what the season might have in store — especially when it comes to the Magic. Be sure to look out for more of these team capsules and to check out all the blogs taking part in this year's NBA Blog Preview (don't worry, I will be linking to all of them in the next few weeks … months … this preview IS never-ending, afterall).
New York Knicks
Last Year/This Year: 36-30/22-10
Last Year vs. Magic: Lost 102-93 in New York on Jan. 16; Won 108-86 in New York on March 28; Won 96-80 in Orlando on April 5
This Year vs. Magic: Won 99-89 in Orlando on Nov. 13; Jan. 5 in Orlando; Jan. 30 in New York; March 20 in New York
Magic Connection: None
The Previews: Seth/Posting and Toasting
Knicks fans have had precious little to cheer for much of the past decade. The marquee names were there. The attention and marketing were all there. The NBA hungered for the Knicks to return to glory.
Every move New York has made for so long was about the quick headline, not necessarily about winning. Adding Amar'e Stoudemire made the team good. Carmelo Anthony made it trendy although not necessarily good. Jeremy Lin brought buzz but no change. This was not a championship team.
And New York hungered for a championship team. Or at least to matter again after so many embarrassing incidents and so many false starts and failed plan. This one had to be the one that worked.
So far in the 2013 season, it has worked flawlessly.
Carmelo Anthony has played at an extremely high level and is becoming the team leader and (gasp) defender everyone believed he coudl be. Sure he can still put up points — a career-high 28.9 per game through Thursday — but the change in his game goes much deeper than that.
Anthony is playing much better defense and is buying into the team concept. Everyone is.
J.R. Smith put the work in this summer and has turned into a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and a strong player off the bench. He is fulfilling all his potential finally. That is what the Knicks have become about.
Tyson Chandler is again a Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner in anchoring that defense. Jason Kidd has added some veteran poise. And Raymond Felton, injured right now, has regained his previous New York form.
This is the kind of synergy you get when everyone is buying into the team concept and on defense. And now this team adds back Amar'e Stoudemire.
But it all circles back around to the name. This is New York after all. This is Carmelo Anthony's team and it is his responsibility. He is finally (and still somewhat stubbornly) learning what Bill Simmons calls "The Secret." He is sublimating his personal desires and stats for the greater good of his team.
Anthony is playing the four more and doing what his team needs to win. Sometimes that means being the scorer he has always been. Sometimes that means being more of a distributor and facilitator. Sometimes that means playing a little more defense.
Numbers are not everything. That is what the Knicks have had to learn in this decade of embarrassment at Madison Square Garden.
How the Magic Will Beat the Knicks: This is a tough one as Tyson Chandler's presence, particularly with Glen Davis out, makes this an extremely tough matchup. Orlando already struggles to get to the foul line and attack the paint. Having Chandler as a deterrent in the paint is a big thing for Orlando to overcome. The Magic are going to have to be shooting well from the floor to win and loosen up that Knicks defense. That is easier said than done. But the Magic are doing a better job now than at the beginning of the season of spreading the floor and getting good looks from beyond the arc. Much better thant hey were in the first matchup.
How the Knicks Will Beat the Magic: Back in November, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the win at Amway Center. Anthony is the matchup nightmare the Magic cannot handle. They could not adequately cover LeBron James and Anthony is very much a player in that vein. A 3/4 hybrid that is a physical perimeter scorer but also a big body. DeQuan Jones is not big enough to deal with him. Maurice Harkless is still very raw — although he played his best game in his career defensively against New York. Josh McRoberts does not have the speed to keep up. Arron Afflalo does not have the size. New York will and should give Orlando a healthy diet of Carmelo Anthony.