Woody: Knicks can compete with Heat if ...

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- If the Knicks can ever get fully healthy, Mike Woodson is fully confident they can compete with the Heat.

"Absolutely," Woodson said on Tuesday. "I still believe that if we could ever get back whole."

Some might look at the Knicks' record (12-22) and Miami's record (27-8) and question Woodson's sanity.

But Woodson's right in one sense: the Knicks have dealt with several serious injuries this season.

Tyson Chandler was out for six weeks. Raymond Felton has missed nearly half of the Knicks' games due to various injuries. Carmelo Anthony was out for three games recently with an ankle injury. And Amar'e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin were restricted due to injuries earlier this season.

"It's been tough in terms of going out on a night in and night out basis and competing," Woodson said on Monday after he had just four healthy players at practice due to an illness that spreading around the locker room.

Woodson won't get to test his "if healthy we can win" theory against Miami on Thursday because Pablo Prigioni (toe) and Metta World Peace (knee) will likely be out. The Knicks could be without Tyson Chandler (illness) and Kenyon Martin (illness) as well.

"It's been hard to judge us because I just have not had that core group on the floor a long period of time, just to see where we are as a ballclub and see how that supporting cast can really fit in," Woodson said.

Miami has won five of six and ten of its last 12 and, for most of the season, has been head and shoulders above the Knicks.

"Until somebody dethrones them, they're still the world champs," says Woodson.

New York seems to be heading into the right direction entering Thursday's game, though. The club has won three of four. Included in those wins are impressive road victories over San Antonio and Dallas.

The Knicks sit 4 1/2 games behind the first-place Raptors in the Atlantic. They are also 1 1/2 games back of Detroit for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

They still have 48 games left in the regular season, plenty of time left to make a run. But Woodson knows it has to happen soon.

"Hell, our backs are against the wall, man," he said. "We've got to make a move now I think as a ball club if we are going to stay in the race."

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