By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Bucks | Madison Square Garden
When: Saturday | 12:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (26-40): The Knicks put a five-game winning streak on the line in a rare noon tipoff today. They'll look to build on Wednesday's 24-point win in Boston, their biggest margin of victory this season, against the 13-win Bucks. The Knicks are firing on all cylinders offensively and getting contributions from the entire roster as they make their push toward the playoffs. They enter today tied with Detroit for 9th place in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games behind the Hawks for the final playoff spot with 16 games left to play.
Milwaukee (13-52): Larry Drew's team may be collecting ping pong balls as the season nears its end, but Bucks fans have reason for optimism thanks to some of the young pieces in place. Sure, they rank 27th in offensive efficiency and dead last in defense, but the foursome of Brandon Knight (22 years old), Nate Wolters (22), Khris Middleton (22) and John Henson (23) has actually managed to outscore opponents by 7.7 points per 100 possessions when on the floor together this season.
The Numbers Game
During their five game winning streak, the Knicks are averaging a whopping 114.4 points per game.
Matchup to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo
As Anthony continues his stellar season for the Knicks, Antetokounmpo continues to emerge as a revelation for Milwaukee. The 19-year-old forward (currently the youngest player in the NBA) wasn't supposed to see the court this year after being drafted out of Greece's 2nd-tier professional league, but his diverse mix of skills and feel for the game forced the organization to speed up his development plan. He still has plenty of room for growth, but he uses his enormous hands and 7'3" wingspan to bother opponents and convert opportunities in the open court. He's been open about the pride he takes in guarding Melo, so we could be in for an exciting matchup this afternoon.
What to Look For
This is another crucial game for the Knicks as they fight for a playoff spot. The Bucks have played them tough in three previous matchups this season, but with the Pacers coming up next and a five-game west coast road trip looming at the end of the month, the Knicks can't afford to let up against Milwaukee....New York has been without Tyson Chandler (personal matter) for the last two games, but Cole Aldrich -- who recorded his first Knicks double-double in his first NBA start on Wednesday -- and Jeremy Tyler have stepped up in his absence...Iman Shumpert has quietly made a big difference, especially on the defensive end, as the Knicks are 11.1 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court than on the bench...Amar'e Stoudemire sat out against Boston to rest, but is expected to play today.