New York Knicks (38-23) @ Denver Nuggets (43-22)
1030PM/ET on MSG, ESPN
I wish I had a small ounce of hope the Knicks would head to Denver, a place Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Kenyon Martin J.R. Smith, and James White used to call home, and prove they’re not dying a slow death like it appears. However, with Carmelo admittedly not 100%, there’s not much you could do to convince me otherwise. With a makeshift starting lineup that includes James White, coupled with an inconsistent bench that lives and dies by the three, it’s very difficult to know which Knicks team will show up. Winning and losing consecutive games by 29 points is not the type of identity crisis a team serious about making a successful playoff run should display this late in the season.
On the other hand, you have the Denver Nuggets who are sailing in the opposite direction of the Knicks. Save for the Miami Heat, the Nuggets are the hottest team in the league right now. They’re currently 28-3 at home, including a 13-game winning streak, and are also on a nine-game winning streak, overall. Like I said, hot! In addition to gelling at the right time, they’re an extremely fun team to watch. Led by their point guard Ty Lawson, the Nuggets have earned the reputation for owning the best transition game in the NBA. This is a nightmare for the Knicks because their transition defense is nonexistent, as evident by the 29-point blowout by the Golden State Warriors on Monday. With mounting injuries and aging bodies decomposing, run-n-gun teams are mercilessly exposing the Knicks’ weaknesses.
If an injured Melo is hellbent on playing, he must put forth better effort than his Monday night attempt. It was obvious within the very early minutes of the game that Melo was playing in discomfort. As the game continued, there were certain moments when he barely applied pressure to his leg. Quite frankly, it was painful to watch. As I looked on, I begged for Mike Woodson to remove Melo from the game because it appeared his presence on the court was definitely hurting the cause, as oppose to helping it. If ever there was a time to employ the addition by subtraction logic, that was it. There are instances when it makes sense to go with a less talented, yet healthier, player. When Melo is on the court, the team naturally looks for him to provide the spark on offense. However, he was just extremely flat, as was our number two scoring option JR Smith; and the offense suffered for it. They never established a rhythm, which is a recipe for disaster when you’re playing a quick tempoed team such as the Golden State Warriors or as we’ll see tonight, the Denver Nuggets.
Considering the history between the two teams and proving they can bounce back from Monday’s demoralizing loss, the Knicks have more than enough reasons to be motivated to win tonight’s game. However, I still think they lose.
Knicks @ Blazers, 1030PM/ET on TNT