I never thought I would ever say this again, but after watching the Knicks defeat the Raptors 113-110, I can say that Madison Square Garden actually has a pulse for the first time since their last playoff series in the 2003-04 season.

The Knicks-Raptors game brought back memories of my childhood 90's: Patrick Ewing's glory days, Charles Oakley banging on the boards and John Starks providing a spark at the point guard position. It was a little weird seeing CC Sabathia and Justin Tuck actually smile during a Knicks game, an image fans haven't seen from celebrities since Spike Lee smiled his way to the NBA Finals in 1994 and 1999.

However, watching the Knicks scratch and claw their way to a 6th straight victory, it made me ask the following question: Are the Knicks back? And despite their recent success with winning 11 of their last 12 games, my answer to that question is still no.

On paper, any basketball fan would be extremely impressed with a team that won 6 games in a row, as well as 11 of their last 12. But when you dig a little deeper into the Knicks' winning ways, it makes you think twice about just how good this Knicks team really is.

First off, the Knicks are executing Coach D'Antoni's gameplan to perfection at the tune of 108 points per game, which is 3rd-best in the Association. However, with D'Antoni's offensive prowess comes the poor defense: New York has allowed just over 106 points a game, which stands at 5th-worst in the NBA. To put this into perspective, the Knicks are the statistical equivalent of the Indianapolis Colts. And this year, being compared to the Colts is not a good thing.

Also, take a look at the teams that New York have beaten over this 12-game stretch (records as of publication):

  • Sacramento: 4-15
  • Golden State: 8-14
  • LA Clippers: 5-17
  • Charlotte twice: 8-13
  • Detroit: 7-16
  • New Jersey (without Devin Harris in the second half): 6-16
  • New Orleans: 14-7
  • Toronto twice: 8-14
  • Minnesota: 5-17

In that list, not only is there only 1 team with a record over .500, but there's also only 1 true playoff contender for the season in the New Orleans Hornets. Amar'e Stoudamire and Raymond Felton seem to have an ever-growing chemistry, Landry Fields is making a good case early on for Rookie of the Year, but they have been looking impressive against the Raptors and the Clippers.

After this Friday's game in Washington, the Knicks will enter an 8-game stretch to wrap up the 2010 calendar year in which Amar'e & Company will face potential playoff teams in 7 of those games: Denver, Boston, Miami twice, Oklahoma City, Chicago and Orlando. However, the one saving grace is that only 2 of those games are on the road in Miami and Orlando.

So Knicks fans, don't let your team's recent success pull the wool over your eyes. They have simply been padding their stats against far inferior teams, and only twice have they looked dominant in doing so. Let's see what this team does against actual playoff contenders the next 3+ weeks, and then start forming proper opinions once the calendar turns to 2011.