So, I figure... LET'S CAPTURE THE FEELING and GO WITH IT! For, verily, what is sports fandom for but to provide an outlet for hope and ultimate victory? Why be a fan, says I, if one is not going to let oneself fully feel these feelings of euphoria, waves which echo backward in time from a remotely possible future instance? Amirite?
After a spirited yet spotty preseason in which NO ONE IS INJURED, Coach Fisher surprises the pundits by settling on a starting lineup of Calderon, Shumpert, Anthony, Stoudemire, and Aldrich. JR Smith is pissed off and, absent Mike Woodson's innate ability to keep a team from complaining to the press, JR complains to the press that he should be the starter. Dalembert is also pissed that he's not starting, but he is more subtle about it.
In the first game, Fish benches JR entirely, using only Tim Jr, Early, Dalembert, Larkin, and Bargnani off the bench.
The Knicks split their first 20 games, looking good at times, and bad at times. J.R. reenters the rotation, sending Early to the bench. He does quite well backing up Melo at the 3. Meanwhile, Fisher plays the Calderon/Shump and Larkin/TimJr combos at the guard spots. The defense suffers a bit but is passable.
In the 21st game, the Knicks fall behind by 30 in the 2nd quarter. Looking for a spark, Fisher inserts Thanasis in the game. He goes crazy, getting 5 steals in the third quarter and scoring 17 points to bring the Knicks back into the game. A lineup of Larkin, Shumpert, Thanassis, Anthony, and Stoudemire closes the game out, winning on a last second three from Stoudemire.
From that point on, Thannasis is a regular part of the rotation, racheting up the defensive intensity, blocking shots, and hitting an ever-larger percentage of his three pointers. A disgruntled Smith sees reduced minutes until Carmelo needs to sit with a sprained wrist. Filling in for Melo, Smith goes crazy, scoring 30+ points in 5 straight games, culminating in a trade deadline deal to a team with cap space for a 1st round draft pick.
The Knicks go on a tear. The triangle is starting to click. The defense is bolstered by the contributions of Larkin and Thanassis off the bench. Cole is averaging a double double, with 4 assists per game, and the Cole/Dalembert center combo is effectively defending. Stoudemire is shooting 60 percent from the field, and his chemistry with Melo is humming. The Knicks rattle off win 16 straight games, then lose one, then win 10 more. They rocket past the Raptors to take control of the Atlantic. They end up with the 4 seed behind the Cavs, the Bulls, and the Pacers.
In the first round, they go toe to toe with the Wizards. In game 7, Melo scores 48 but misses the tying shot. It's rebounded by Cole, who tosses it to Shump, who whips it to Calderon, who nails the 3 at the buzzer. In the second round, the Knicks face the surprising LeBron-less Heat, who have upset the Cavs in the first round. The Knicks sweep them to set up an Eastern Conference showdown with the Bulls. The Knicks dispatch the Bulls in 6 and head to the finals.
The Knicks lose in the finals in 7 games to the Lakers, who have ridden a resurgent Kobe Bryant, a shockingly progressed Jordan Hill, and a transcendent Jeremy Lin to to finals glory. Luckily, the Knicks avenge the loss in 2015-16 by sweeping them. But that's another story.