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J.R. Smith to New York - Are the Knicks the Favorite in the East?

By Beardandstache @BeardAndStache

J.R. Smith to New York - Are the Knicks the Favorite in the East?

Photo: Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images

- Adam Parker

It looks like Jeremy Lin is going to have another mouth to feed.

Shooting guard J.R. Smith tweeted Friday that he has decided to join Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and phenom sensation, Jeremy Lin, in the Big Apple.
"New York Knicks It Is!" Smith tweeted out after making his decision.
Talk about a monumental turnaround. Just a few weeks ago, there were worries that a star-studded roster that fields the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire could still potentially miss the playoffs altogether, leaving New York with a serious case of basketball deficiency. Not to mention that the hot coals usually reserved for the busom of Giants' head coach Tom Coughlin had been transferred to directly under Mike D'Antoni.
But after recent events, one has to ask -- does the signing of Smith make the Knickerbockers the front-runners in the East?
Simply put -- I wouldn't quite go that far. The Knicks currently sit at eighth in the East despite coming into Friday night's game against the Hornets on a seven-game winning streak since the inception of the 'Lin-Dynasty.' What might be even more telling is that New York has gone on this impressive run without the help of their two stars, as both were in and out of the lineup throughout the streak.
The Knicks were fortunate enough to have a bona fide starting point guard who happens to be the perfect field general for Mike D'Antoni's offense fall into their lap.
But now that two former Nuggets, (Anthony, Smith) have landed in the Big Apple, what does the Knicks' future hold? Is there ever such a thing as too many scorers? It bolis down to one thing -- as long as Anthony and Smith are willing to trust Lin to run the show, the wins should continue to pile up.
Honestly, the only road block keeping the Knicks from reaching the mountain's peak in the East is their lack of willingness to put in effort on the defensive end of the floor. This has been the Achilles' heel of all D'Antoni-coached teams in recent memory. They have the explosive offense which can usually carry a team to the postseason, but when it came time to buckle down defensively, his teams folded.
That's what has me most worried about this Knicks team. The roster is overflowing with offensive firepower with the addition of Smith to go along with guys like Anthony, Stoudemire, and Landry Fields. But don't think they are lacking of the necessary tools to be very solid defensively, because they have those pieces too.
However, the question remains whether they will be willing to exert the energy on defense. Don't get me wrong, the Knicks are better defensively than they have been in recent years under D'Antoni, and the Tyson Chandler signing has clearly been a godsend.
But Chandler can't defend all five opposing players by himself. His other teammates are going to need to pitch in a bit if the Knicks intend to make a serious run in the playoffs this season.
But, Adam, even if the Knicks are able to solve their defensive woes, what then? After all, they still have to contend with the Heat, Bulls, 76ers, Magic, Celtics and Hawks in the East as well.
My answer to that is simple.
If the Knicks can play up to their potential for the remainder of the season (and that is a Mount Everest-sized if), the bulk of the Eastern Conference won't be much of an issue. In fact, outside of the Miami Thrice, Derrick Rose and the Bulls, and maybe the 76ers, those other teams mentioned will be little more than an afterthought.
You hear that, Knicks?
A top-three seed in the East is yours for the taking. The question is, are you willing to put in the effort to go and take it?
Be sure to follow Beard And Stache on Twitter @BeardAndStacheand also Adam @Adam_Parker43, Like our Facebook page HERE!

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