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As we near the half-way point of the 2012-13 NBA season, now’s as good a time as any to ask ourselves: are the New York Knicks legitimate contenders to win the championship? While there’s no doubt the Carmelo Anthony-led squad is a dark horse long-term candidate with intriguing NBA odds, are they an Eastern Conference stalwart capable of out-playing the best that basketball has to offer in a seven-game series?
This weekend, in an attempt to live up to their heightened expectations now that they sit first in the Atlantic Division and fourth on Bovada’s NBA futures, the Knicks will take on a fellow conference contender in the Atlanta Hawks.
A victory over the in-turmoil Hawks may not be the golden candy wrapper that seals New York’s path to the Finals, but it would serve as a significant momentum boost nonetheless. The Hawks, after all, have qualified for the postseason in each of the past five seasons, going further than the first-round in three of them.
With Anthony at his best in New York, and Tyson Chandler playing like an All-Star, the Knicks have both the star power and depth (think J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, not to mention Amar’e Stoudemire) to follow through on their 12/1 odds of winning the NBA championship.
With the milestone of Game 41 nearing, it all starts now.