I joined this forum just to make the following observation (though I'm sure I'll be sticking around for a while):
I think that the media has been focusing entirely on the wrong concerns with regard to Melo and JR Smith joining the team. They keep asking whether those guys will dominate the ball, and stop the ball movement. I think that is a much smaller concern than whether they will step up on the defensive side.
During the winning streak, the defense was exceptional, albeit against weak competition. But a number of our stronger defensive players are now going to be getting fewer minutes.
My guess is that Melo actually will step up on defense; I think he's shown the ability to do it in flashes, and with less of an offensive burden, may have the energy to sustain it for longer periods. I have no idea whether we can say the same about JR Smith. And I'm afraid that Amare just doesn't have the instincts to play great defense.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how the rotation gets worked out. Hard to see how Shump and Fields can both get decent minutes, if Baron is healthy and JR plays regularly. I hope that Harrleson managed to crack the rotation when he returns too.