When it’s fully healthy.
“Absolutely, and I still believe that if we could ever get back whole,” Woodson said on the eve of the first Knicks-Heat game of the season, set for Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
The problem for Woodson and his team is that they are far from healthy at the moment.
The Knicks couldn’t even practice on Wednesday because they only had a handful of able bodies thanks to what Woodson said was a “bug going around the team.”
Tyson Chandler, who missed the Detroit game Tuesday, is a game-time decision with what the team is calling an upper respiratory infection. Woodson also said Kenyon Martin could be a game-time decision with the bug. Beno Udrih (sore left knee) is questionable and is expected to get an MRI. Pablo Prigioni (right big toe) remains out. Carmelo Anthony, coming off his 34-point effort in Tuesday’s win over Detroit, took a recovery day and didn’t practice.
“We’re a little beat up from a health standpoint,” Woodson said. “I didn’t have much to work with today because there’s a bug going around our team and a lot of guys are under the weather a little bit.”
Said Iman Shumpert: “I got shots up today. A lot of guys are sick. I think everybody came in and did something. Not everybody was able to go out there and practice. But everybody did something. Some guys were in the weight room. Some guys were getting treatment. Some guys were shooting. Some guys were riding bikes. Everybody was doing something.”
The consistent injuries, in turn, have impacted the team’s fluidity and chemistry on offense.
“Offensively, we’re on a roller-coaster ride in terms of chemistry because guys are not used to the plays, they’re not used to cutting and playing without the ball,” Woodson said. “And that comes in practice.”
Overall, the Knicks (12-22) have some momentum because they won three of their last four games and remain just 4 1/2 games out of first place in the Atlantic.
But in Miami, they are facing a team tied for the NBA’s best record (27-8) and winners of three straight.
“Until somebody dethrones them, they’re the world champions and they’ve proven that the last two years,” Woodson said. “I think anytime LeBron [James] and [Chris] Bosh and [Dwyane] Wade suits it up, man, they give their team an opportunity to win games and they [have] done a great job in doing that over the last two years. The challenge is just trying to keep those three intact and not let guys like Ray Allen and [Shane] Battier and guys like that have big nights.”
If Chandler isn’t able to go for a second straight game, the Knicks could be in a for a long night as James and Wade are known for attacking the basket, especially in transition.
“I think Kenyon has done a pretty good job in that area and [Andrea] Bargnani has been pretty good around the rim in terms of plugging it up some for us so I think they’re good enough to help us in that area,” Woodson said. “It always helps to have Tyson. It’ll help to have everybody back in uniform. I think once this bug thing gets behind us I think most of the guys will be back in uniform and then we’ll see where we are.”
The Knicks play 10 of their next 13 games at home, including eight straight beginning Jan. 17 against the Clippers, and that stretch could be pivotal in determining their playoff hopes. Right now, they are 1 1/2 games out of the eighth spot in the East.
“This month I think is somewhat pivotal in terms of where we go as a team because of the fact that we have so many games at home,” Woodson said. “We gotta start taking advantage of those games.”
Adam Zagoria covers the New York Knicks and Big East hoops for NBA.com and SNY.tv. He also appears as a Big East Basketball Insider on SNY and 1050 ESPN Radio. You can follow him on Twitter and read his blog.