Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: What are the Knicks' title odds this season?
While the Knicks have been the long-standing basketball kings in New York, they're now the underdogs in Sin City.
Vegas odds came out on Tuesday, giving the Nets the edge over the Knicks to win the 2013 title (30-1 to 35-1). In addition, the Nets have 12-1 odds to claim the Eastern Conference, while the Knicks are tied with the Pacers at 14-1. Overall, the Heat (11-5), Lakers (5-2) and Thunder (9-2) are the clear championship favorites.
But the Knicks could care less about that stuff.
"That's fine with me," Carmelo Anthony said after practice on Thursday. "I'm cool. We cool. We ain't thinking about that. We're thinking about ourselves. We can't control the Vegas odds."
"I don't care about no Vegas odds, because you know why?" Rasheed Wallace said. "All those guys who are making those bets and making those odds, they're not out there on that hardwood. So you can't say that."
While the Knicks have the stronger frontcourt, and the Nets the stronger backcourt, there is reason to believe the Knicks will be the better team because of their defensive depth on the perimeter and interior. That's the biggest question surrounding the basically all-new Nets.
The Knicks could regularly shut down opponents in the high 80s, while scoring more than 100 points per game based on their versatile offensive pieces (for example, Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and others rotating in and out of the block). So far in training camp, Mike Woodson has been impressed with STAT's inside game and he's starting to notice the different options he has initiating halfcourt sets through the post.
"It looks good," the coach said. "Amare is a 6-10 player that should be able to post the ball some. He's such an excellent free throw shooter, so if he doesn't make the bucket, you hope that he gets fouled and he goes to the line and shoots a high percentage, makes his two free throws and then he gets ready to play defense.
"I'm just trying to mix it up a little bit for him, where he's just not picking-and-popping or just picking-and-rolling. I'm just trying to give him some touches down there. It won't be a lot, but he'll get some. Tyson will get some, Melo, all of our bigs and guys that I think can post the ball. J.R., we'll utilize him some down there as well, and we'll see how it plays out."
Anthony said Stoudemire's post play has improved -- thanks to working with Hakeem Olajuwon in the offseason -- and it's been noticeable during practice, especially his footwork. STAT has unleashed some "new jewels" (which he calls them), consisting of fakes, spin moves and jump hooks, and his presence on the block has helped the team continue to sharpen its ball rotation to open shooters. Melo said his frontcourt teammate feels more at ease down low.
"It's not really about taking the moves that Olajuwon gave him," he said. "I think it's more of the insight and the knoweledge, and being confident and comfortable down there when you get the basketball to take your time, and to know that you can make something happen.
"He's getting better and better at that each day. We try our best to get it to him down there right now, just so he can get accustomed to being down there, being comfortable. At the end of the day, that's the most important thing. If you're not comfortable down there, then it's not going to work."
On the Nets' side, there's also the uncertainty of center Brook Lopez making it through a full season after only playing five games in 2011-12 due to a right foot injury. On the flip side, Chandler's been recently healthy, and he has the unique one-on-one guarding ability to make Lopez ineffective. He is, after all, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
But, of course, injuries could affect the Knicks more with their older age, which is likely why Vegas sees more promise in the younger Nets team.
What do you think are the Knicks' title odds? Leave us your comments below.
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