Maybe the Knicks’ fast start set expectations too high.
Heck, that’s what happened across the East River in the final month of 2012, and we all know how that turned out for Avery Johnson and the Nets, right?
Is this a Knicks team that is going to embrace mediocrity, or something just a notch above mediocrity?
Or will they go back to defining superiority the way they did when they knocked off the Heat by 20 points. Twice.
Watching them on their home court, listening to them afterward, you got the sense that the urgency is not quite what it was just a couple weeks back.
And is it going to get easier now that Stoudemire has to be worked back into the rotation (if that is indeed the plan — Woodson ducked a question beforehand about whether he could envision keeping Stoudemire in a bench role throughout the season)?
“There’s no rush to force the issue right now. When that time comes and coach needs me, I’ll be ready,” Stoudemire said with a calmness that I found alarming.
If these Knicks are truly going to be a championship-contending team, they can’t accept being the .500 team that they’ve become since mid-December.
They need to win the East, not finish near the top.
And a loss to a team like the Trail Blazers, as overachieving of a bunch as there is in the West, should be the type of thing that left Stoudemire down in the dumps.
Instead, he had an “it’s all good” demeanor that struck me as odd.
It ain’t all good if Stoudemire remains a shell of what he once was. But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, take a step back and see where he is in 10 games. He’ll get to go against Kevin Garnett (twice), Nikola Vucevic, David West, Greg Monroe and Brook Lopez during that span, and at some point he will put up a 20-10 game that’ll remind everyone of the Stoudemire of old.
If not, maybe then folks will start to get bothered by what still looks like a fundamental construction flaw in this team.
Because again, if I am a Knicks fan (which, as a neutral observer, I am not), I am worried about one thing — finishing with a better record than the Heat. And when losses pile up because the intensity of November looks gone when it is only January, I’d have a nervous twitch by now.
Stoudemire looked rustier than a ’39 Ford that has been sitting in a field for two decades. I know it has been 9 months since he played, but I expected more production on the court and less ambivalence in the locker room afterward.
And I expect it sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, that 1973 championship banner will be flapping in the rafters the way it has been for 40 years, getting yellow with age — and with little hope of seeing a companion alongside it anytime soon.
Chris Sheridan is publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com. Follow him on Twitter.