On January 27th the New York Knicks sat in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference Playoff standings at 18-24 and were merely hoping to make a playoff run on the tails of their star Carmello Anthony.
It was then that GM David Keene took matters into his own hands and stunned the league with a deal that actually sent Anthony along with teammates Robin Lopez and Kendrick Perkins to the Miami Heat in exchange for Chris Bosh and Goran Dragic.
The new balanced lineup and an instant chemistry between the new and old members led the Knicks to a 2nd half surge that would give them the Atlantic Division Championship at 42-40 and a spot in the playoffs.
But that was only the beginning of the story in the Big Apple.
The Knicks started off on fire and swept the Atlanta Hawks right out of the first round and their reward was facing Lebron James and the Cavs, who had the leagues highest win total (71). You’d think the saga would end there but not only did New York bounce Cleveland and the King, they did it in FIVE games!
The Eastern Conference Finals would be the Knicks first relatively tough test as it took them six games to defeat the Bulls in a series that featured several close games.
Their eventual foe in the SSG finals, the Los Angeles Clippers, who had the leagues 2nd highest win total, also had a smooth road to the championship. Led by Chris Paul, the Clippers only lost ONE game on their way to dispatching the Suns, Rockets, and surprising Dallas Mavericks to reach the finals.
Los Angeles, with Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan seemed to be a heavy favorite but the Knicks sent a message in game one with a convincing win as Goran Dragic scored 37 and Jose Calderon dished out 11 assists to go along with his 26 pts in a 119-108 victory.
The Clippers rebounded at home with what would be their only win of the series, winning a tight game on the strength of 25 points a piece by Wes Johnson and J.J.Redick.
New York would finish off their great run with three straight victories with seemingly a different hero every night. The solid and balanced lineup of Kristaps Porzingis, Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon, Aaron Afflalo, and Goran Dragic was too much for the Clippers.
Looking to next year, it’s hard to imagine a team wrestling the Atlantic away from the Knicks with the team Keene has assembled but I’m sure teams like Cleveland and Chicago will be looking for their revenge. Now that they’re at the top of the hill can they stay there?
Join SSG Basketball, throw your hat in the ring and find out! Maybe you can be the next David Keene!!
Draft lottery is next week!