By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Nuggets | Pepsi Center
When: Wednesday | 10:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The five-game road trip got off to an inauspicious start on Monday, as the Knicks fell flat in Carmelo Anthony's return against the Warriors. After a 23-point 1st quarter, they only managed to scratch out 40 more points the rest of the game, the shots just not falling. Anthony's knee clearly bothered him -- he said after the game that he was not in pain, but it did cause "irritation" -- and the offense simply could not get anything going. Tonight, they look to bounce back in the arena where no fewer than five current Knicks used to play their home games.
Denver: The Nuggets are currently in 5th place in the Western Conference playoff picture, but they are only two games out of 3rd and playing some fantastic basketball of late. While adjusting to a revamped roster they played 17 of their first 23 games on the road and struggled out of the gates. But they've won nine in a row now, and figure to keep surging down the stretch as the schedule turns in their favor and they get to enjoy more of the best home court advantage in the NBA.
Last Time Out
New York: With Anthony's knee clearly not 100 percent recovered, the Knicks struggled to score after the 1st quarter, losing to the Warriors, 92-63, on Monday.
Denver: The Nugs kept rolling, beating the Suns 108-93 for their ninth straight win on Monday.
The Numbers Game
Since the Knicks traded for Anthony in February of 2011, they've gone 88-65.
Matchup to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Kenneth Faried
In case you are new around here, I should warn you that I have an uncanny ability to pick matchups that do not end up taking place, for one reason or another. Usually one of the players gets scratched due to injury between the time I publish and the game. In this case, I choose this matchup knowing that injury -- or at least the side effects of injury -- could intervene and make this a storyline to follow.
Every Knicks fan will be waiting to see how Melo responds in his second game back. He played strong around the hoop, but he had very little lift in his legs and couldn't run at full speed. Faried is one of the most active, physical power forwards in the league. If Melo is still hobbled, he'll have difficulty showing on screens and might be hesitant to move too far from the hoop on either end. If he experiences a setback and is limited, keeping a body on Faried will be crucial for the Knicks.
What to Look For
The Nuggets' home court advantage is well-documented. Because of its altitude, the thin air is said to affect opposing players, especially early in games. Denver complments this built-in advantage by assembling an incredibly deep team that loves to run. The Knicks are working with a relatively deep rotation, but still have roles to be claimed, especially in the frontcourt. Chris Copeland has shown that he can score the ball when he gets into the game, and Mike Woodson has stated that he will get more playing time during the road trip. Kenyon Martin is finding his way into the rotation and could be a big help against the Nuggets. To get a victory in the Mile High City, we'll need to see bounce-back performances from a handful of guys, as well as some adjustments on offense if Melo isn't capable of playing like he's accustomed to.