What once seemed like a serious longshot may now soon become a reality. The New York Knicks could have the best record in the Eastern Conference before the week is out.
Thanks to a perfect 5-0 homestand, which was capped off Monday with a highly-efficient win over the Detroit Pistons, the Knicks (31-15) find themselves just a half-game back of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat (31-14) in the Eastern Conference race. This week New York will be tested with a pair of winnable road games at Washington Wednesday and Minnesota Friday, followed by an intriguing home matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Sparking the surge of the Knicks, who own a solid 25-20-1 mark versus the NBA odds this season, has largely been the recent returns from injuries of Raymond Felton and Amare Stoudemire.
Felton, who has played in six games after missing the previous month of the season because of a hand injury, is slowly rounding back into form. He has averaged nearly nine assists a game during the last four games while giving the Knicks a much-needed floor general and penetrator to complement the scoring abilities of Stoudemire and All-Star Carmelo Anthony.
Also boosting the Knicks has been the insane rebounding numbers being put up by Tyson Chandler. He has had at least 20 boards in each of the last three games to match a feat only equaled in the franchise by the great Willis Reed during the 1969-70 season, according to ESPN.
The Knicks are proving equally adept on both sides of the court as they are averaging 101 points a game, which ranks eighth in the league; while giving up just 95.5 points a game, which is the sixth-best in the NBA. Additionally, the Knicks are proving deadly from the 3-point land. They are shooting 38.5 percent as a team behind the arc, which is the second-best percentage in the NBA.