The New York Knicks had aspirations of winning the NBA finals this season. Or, at the very least, matching head-to-head with the loaded Miami Heat in the playoffs.
Now the Knicks will get neither after a second-round exit and a disappointing loss to the Indiana Pacers. The series came to an end on Saturday night when the Pacers closed out Game 6, despite 39 points from Carmelo Anthony.
“It’s tough,” Anthony said. “We all know what was the goal that we had set. Everybody wants to go to the championship, win the championship, that’s the ultimate goal. Unfortunately our run had to stop here.”
The loss wasn’t too unexpected. The Pacers have amassed a physical team with great defensive players like Roy Hibbert, and are looked at as having a decent chance against the Miami Heat. But for a Knicks team that finished with its best record in years, and won its first playoff series in close to a decade, it was still a major disappointment.
The Knicks could still come back after the difficult end to the season. Anthony is closing in on his 29th birthday and still at the top of his game.
“My career is far from over,” Anthony said after the loss to the Pacers on Saturday, “so I’m not really concerned about that. I still got a lot more time in this league.”
But the Knicks will have plenty of competition, and 2013 may have been the best chance for a championship. The Bulls will be back in contention next year with the return of Derrick Rose, and the Heat — who now seem to have an easy path to a second NBA championship — will return as the team to beat.
And aside from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks roster is far from stacked. The team has question marks at many positions, and the league’s oldest roster will need some major retooling. Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, and Amar’e Stoudemire are locked in for two years while Steve Novak is on board for three.
But for the Knicks to avoid another disappointing finish in 2014, Carmelo will need a major piece to complement him a la Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City.