The Knicks were 8-15 and had lost 11 of 13 when Mike D'Antoni first inserted Jeremy Lin into the lineup. At the time, many were calling for D'Antoni's job. Of course, since Lin started playing major minutes, the Knicks have won nine of 12.
Charles Barkley, echoing an opinion stated by many, believes Lin saved D'Antoni's job.
Linsanity on ESPNNewYork.com
When it comes to the Knicks' newest sensation, ESPN New York is all-Lin.
Lin: Game By Game Latest"I think Jeremy Lin did save his job because they were going nowhere fast. They were really going nowhere fast," Barkley said on Monday on ESPN New York 1050's "The Mike Lupica Show."
Barkley also believes the Knicks can finish as high as third in the Eastern Conference but have no chance of defeating either Miami or Chicago.
"They're probably going to be the third-best team in the East that doesn't mean they're in the conversation with Miami and Chicago," Barkley said.
The Knicks, currently seeded seventh, have lost two games against the Heat this season. They play Miami for a third and final time on April 15. The Knicks (17-18) are 0-1 against the Bulls. They have three remaining games against Chicago.
Barkley's also no fan of D'Antoni's defense, saying D'Antoni doesn't demand enough on D.
Barkley referenced D'Antoni's Suns teams when discussing the coach's defensive deficiencies.
"They were good enough but he never held them accountable on the defensive end. And I think he's stubborn," Barkley told Lupica. "I think he wants to win his way offensively. ... Like, 'We can outscore people, this is my system.' If he ever held some of those players accountable on the defensive end, they would have been a lot better team and not just exciting to watch."
The Knicks ranked 21st in defensive efficiency last season. But they're made significant strides this year.
Thanks in part to strong play from Tyson Chandler, Jared Jeffries and Iman Shumpert and plenty of input from assistant Mike Woodson, the Knicks will enter the second half ranked seventh in defensive efficiency.