By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Nuggets | Pepsi Center
When: Friday | 9:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (3-11): The Knicks are looking to snap a seven-game losing streak after falling to the Clippers in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Playing without Tyson Chandler, they've seen their defensive rank fall to 29th in the NBA, and their offensive efficiency (24th) hasn't been much better. There is no one root cause, but as Carmelo Anthony said two nights ago, they need to put four quarters together to stop the skid. After being without him for four games, the Knicks welcomed Raymond Felton back into the starting lineup against the Clips.
Denver (8-6): After winning 57 games last season but losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Warriors, the Nuggets made wholesale changes in the offseason; they let go of coach George Karl, GM Masai Ujiri and key free agent Andre Iguodala, who signed with Golden State. The plan seems to be to build a deep, balanced team around Ty Lawson, the speedy point guard who is perfectly suited to lead a team at high altitude and the only player who is averaging more than 26 minutes per game (he plays 36).
The Numbers Game
The Nuggets have eight players averaging between 7 and 11 points per game.
Matchup to Watch
Raymond Felton vs. Ty Lawson
The two former North Carolina Tar Heels will go head-to-head tonight as they try to lead their respective teams to victory. Lawson is averaging career highs in points (21) and assists (8) per game, while Felton is battling back from a pinched nerve in his hip. Both possess blazing speed with the ball and cause havoc when they get into the paint, making transition defense crucial to stopping them.
What to Look For
Denver regularly ranks among the fastest teams in the league, and this year is no different; the Nuggets play with the third-fastest pace in the league. Playing at altitude gives the Nuggets a supreme home court advantage, so Mike Woodson could be forced to spread his minutes around and utilize his deep bench. The Nuggets are flush with long wings, so we could see some hybrid lineups that we're not used to.