After the Miami Heat went on their impressive, near record-breaking streak earlier this season, many thought there was simply no competition for them in the East. But after seeing the current run that the Knicks are on, some fans and bettors are thinking that New York could be the new team to beat.
The Knicks notched their 13th consecutive win on Tuesday, beating the Washington Wizards 120-99. It’s the longest winning streak the Knicks have been on in nearly 20 years, but more importantly, the win also marked the first time New York has won the Atlantic Division title since 1994.
“It’s a great thing to achieve one of your main goals, and now we’ve just got to go get that gold ball,” reserve J.R. Smith said after Tuesday’s win, according to ESPN.com.
Carmelo Anthony – the NBA’s leading scorer – continued his recent tear as well, as he put up 36 points against the Wizards, 21 of which came in the third quarter as the Knicks broke out a 24-point lead. Anthony has at least 35 points in five consecutive games, which ties him with Bernard King for the longest such streak in franchise history.
“I just think Melo, he’s been on a nice run and I mean it’s nice to see because and I know what he’s thinking,” said Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “He was thinking winning that division tonight and he wasn’t going to leave any doubt in anybody’s mind that we earned the rights to win the division tonight.”
Although division titles don’t give teams any advantages, or better seeding positions come playoff time, they still represent proud accomplishment, and in the Knicks’ case, progress.
“There’s no reason not to have a smile on your face at this moment,” Anthony said. “We accomplished one of our goals that we set before the season in training camp, so it’s a stepping stone for us.”
The next goal for New York, of course, is to win the NBA championship and although some would call the Heat indestructible, some recent injuries say otherwise.
Dwyane Wade has already said he may sit out until the Eastern Conference playoffs and LeBron James has also missed several games in the past couple of weeks. Obviously, Miami is resting its stars for the playoffs, but there’s no question that the Heat are not at 100% right now and that could spell trouble if they run into a red-hot team like the Knicks in the postseason. Right now, it certainly seems like the two teams are on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Knicks are currently listed at 12/1 to win the NBA title this year, while the Heat still reside atop the futures odds at 5/7. Most bettors should feel good in taking that 12/1 wager for value considering just how good the Knicks have proven to be lately.