While the Celtics have taken time to develop chemistry and finally get above .500 with a 4-3 record, the New York Knicks have gotten off to a quick start and remain the only unbeaten team with a 5-0 record. They are off to a fast start and seemingly have fit their 7 new players into the chemistry of the team without a hitch. But is it fools gold?
One of the questions that the Knicks have faced in the past couple of years is whether Amare, Chandler and Melo can co-exist on the team. Can they play well together. We've seen evidence in past seasons that this hasn't always been an easy thing for them. But so far this season, it hasn't been a problem since Amare is out with a knee injury. When he comes back, will the old familiar questions about their chemistry (or lack of it) resurface?
If Amare comes back mid December and suddenly they don't play as well, will Coach Woodson sit him in spite of the fact that he is making close to $20 million this season? Will that cause friction on the team? Will they look to trade him? And what will that do? There are a lot of questions about this team that are yet to be answered and even a 5-0 start doesn't begin to answer them.
Another reason that this fast start won't last is the age of this team. People call the Celtics old, but they are spring chickens compared to this Knicks team. True that 2 of the Celtics stars are 35 and 36, but the core of the Celtics is now much younger and they will be depending on those young legs more and more as the season goes on. The Knicks on the other hand have younger stars, but they are depending on a bench with 4 players who are 38 or older. The Celtics have been there, depending on a bench filled with vets who are on their last legs, literally. It means more time for the starters and all of them, bench and starters wear down by the end of the year.
Remember, it's not how a team starts. It's not about how a team plays in October or November. It's all about how they play in March, April, May and June. I believe that the Celtics will rise when those months come around. They have a deep bench with lots of young legs to carry them through the season and down the stretch. The Knicks on the other hand are built for a quick start and then in the waning months of the season, those old legs backing them up aren't going to be quite as strong. Rasheed Wallace in May anyone? Been there, done that, not doing it again, thankfully.
The fact that the Knicks are old does not make their record fool's gold. Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby and Prignioni are quality players who bring a lot of poise and experience to their talented core. Rasheed brings toughness and grit to their locker room as well. They also dismantled Miami in an impressive fashion. Felton and Stoudemire have excellent chemistry and make each other better as do Kidd and Chandler. Carmelo will definitely be one of the best offensive players in the league this year now that he's comfortable, motivated and in shape. The big questions facing the Knicks are can JR Smith continue to produce as he has these 5 games through out the season? Can Raymond Felton stay in shape and produce? How effective is Stoudemire going to be when he gets back? Is he improved as a post player? Can he defend like he did in NY before the Carmelo trade?