Mike Woodson insists he still believes the Knicks will win the division (and they just might)
When a team has started off as poorly as the New York Knicks, the knee-jerk reaction to hearing its beleaguered head coach say that he believes the division title is still within reach reasonably would be a dismissive roll of the eyes … especially when a hilariously awkward video like this one emerges on the same day.
But Mike Woodson put it out there on Thursday, one day after the Knicks were walloped by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a Christmas Day Massacre at Madison Square Garden. Despite sitting at 9-19, Woodson insisted that he has no doubt that a team who has underperformed in nearly every facet of the game can still win the Atlantic Division.
And guess what? He may be right.
Heading into Friday’s slate of NBA games, the Knicks only sit three games back of the division-leading Toronto Raptors. At 11-15, the Raptors own the worst record of a division-leading team at this stage of the season in the past 35 years. The Eastern Conference is extremely down this season, and a lot of the blame rests on the shoulders of the teams muddling through the year in the atrocious Atlantic.
And that’s why Woodson’s defiance in the face of just how poorly the team has played thus far actually makes some sense.
“The beauty of all this is nobody’s running away with it in [the Atlantic] division,” Woodson said on Thursday, according to a New York Post report. “I’m pushing our team to win our division still. We won it last year. I expect us to win it this year.’’
Woodson attributes his faith in the team due to how the Knicks have fared in its previous 12 games, where the squad has gone a decent 6-6.
“Do I see some light at the end of the tunnel? I do,” Woodson said. “I think eventually we’ll get where we need to get, based on our last 12 games. Eventually we’ll get healthy and we’ll see how it all plays out.”
The Knicks have a home-and-home match-up on Friday and Saturday against the Raptors and a sweep would put them right on Toronto’s tail in the division. The Knicks may be without the services of Carmelo Anthony for the two-game back-and-forth to Canada. Anthony currently is listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain for the home-and-home against the Raptors after sitting out Wednesday’s blowout loss.
Following the Raptors back-to-back, the team then embarks on a three-game road trip through Texas, facing the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks in a four-day stretch.
But Woodson steadfastly believes the team is headed in the right direction, despite all evidence to the contrary. Further, he wants the chance to see it through.
“Bottom line is I’m the coach of this team,’’ Woodson said. “I have high standards in terms of what I do and what I expect players to do. It starts with me. I understand that. I don’t want to run away from that as a coach.’’
Pretty inspiring stuff. What say you, Carmelo Anthony?
Uh-oh. And yet, Woodson may be on to something, even if Carmelo ain’t paying attention. Plenty of time remains to right the ship and it’s not like the Toronto Raptors strike fear in the hearts of its division rivals. Come spring, the way the Knicks have stumbled out of the gate may be a distant memory.
Or the struggles will be the first of many reasons why the team will miss the playoffs. One of the two for sure.