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Knicks know stakes are high

With just 23 regular-season games remaining, the Knicks aren’t taking any chances. They’re focused on turning this “work-in-progress” into a bonafide playoff contender -- and that means they’re not planning to take many days off.

We just got the official word that the team is having a shootaround at 10 a.m. Sunday before their 6:30 p.m. game against Atlanta.

This. Never. Happens.

The Knicks haven't held shootarounds on 6:30-game days in the past. But, as we can see, times have changed. The stakes are high, admitted Mike D’Antoni, and there’s little room for error.

“We’ve always had those expectations,” he said. “I think knowing that this is awful late to put the team together, knowing that certain things have to click, knowing that we’re still not finished and rebuilding the team completely. But I think if you’d ask Amar’e, you would ask Carmelo, ask Chauncey, yeah, they think they’re as good as anyone in the league. So that’s what their expectations are -- not to make the playoffs, but to be really good in the playoffs.”

But to do that, they need time. And that’s the one thing they don’t have. So, D’Antoni is forced to make the most of the days and weeks he has left.

On a positive note, though, Carmelo Anthony said he’s feeling more comfortable with the offense.

“Yeah, just trying to figure out the spots and where everybody’s at on the court at different times within the offense,” he said. “Today was more of a talk walkthrough. Just getting everybody acclimated, figuring out some schemes, not offensively but defensively that’s going to be our go-to.”

Though he’s most comfortable going against a defender one-on-one, Anthony said he enjoys fitting into this new system, rather than having his new teammates conform to what he’s used to.

“We just want Toney (Douglas) to go out there and just be him. Just play his game,” he said. “We try to tell him, we try to tell Landry (Fields), we try to tell Shawne (Williams) that: ‘Don’t worry about me and Amar’e (Stoudemire). Let us feed off of you guys. Let us read you guys. You guys play your game. That’s the only way we’re going to be successful with them guys.'

" .... Sometimes during the game, I’m trying to pick my spots. If I have a little defender on me, I’ll go to the post. It’s just a natural instinct that I have. But it’s better for me in this offense to keep the ball moving and running and coming off screens. I didn’t have that in Denver. It was just go down there and get a bucket in the post and bully your way through. I did seven years of bullying, man. My body, I can’t take it no more.”

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