As a Knicks fan, this season has been a great breath of fresh air. At least the beginning of the year was a breath of fresh air. The team played passionately on defense, moved the ball very well, always looked for the open guy by making the extra pass, shot the three ball at a high percentage, and of course got major contributions from the (in many cases, old) role players. That's all well and good, but something hasn't been right with the team recently.
Ever since they lost three games in a row in the beginning of January to the Celtics, Pacers, and Bulls. It was around this time that the offense began to stagnate, which is why they lost to these teams. The Knicks can't beat teams that actually play defense. The honeymoon period was over. Carmelo Anthony reverted back to Iso-Melo and was no longer willing to give up a decent or good shot for someone else to get a great shot. Raymond Felton starting shooting a ridiculous amount, J.R. Smith wouldn't ever give up the ball, and Steve Novak suddenly wasn't automatic from behind the arc.
The biggest problem is that the Knicks aren't stopping people enough on defense. The best remedy for this, Iman Shumpert, has seemingly rushed back from his injury and isn't playing like he did last year. This is why his name has been brought up in so many trade discussions recently, but it would be a big mistake to get rid of him. He'll be back to normal come playoff time, and he's the key to this team's playoff success. Recently, the perimeter defense has been lacking and Shumpert will help.
Amar'e Stoudemire is a real burst of offensive talent and energy off the bench, but he's still awful defensively and creates an issue when both he and Carmelo Anthony are on the floor at the same time. As long as Stoudemire improves slightly and isn't so bad at guarding the pick and roll, the Knicks can contend for a championship.
The last thing that has been different, is the inconsistent three point shooting. They keep jacking up shots, and while 38% as a team is pretty good, it doesn't tell the whole story. Some games, they shoot the lights out and the opponent has no chance of winning, and other times they're less accurate than a drunken Tim Tebow.
The Knicks have a real shot to challenge the Heat this year, but some things need to change in order for that to happen.