By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Bucks | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: After wins in Miami and Atlanta, the streak has hit 10. By this point, offensive possessions that don't end with a quality shots are few and far between. Carmelo Anthony is playing out of his mind -- with 90 points and only one turnover in the last two games -- and the Knicks are up to third in the NBA in offensive efficiency. J.R. Smith continues to attack, which has opened up the perimeter for himself and his teammates, and guys are consistently making "the right play." After playing in Miami and Atlanta on back-to-back nights, the team flew back to New York and had yesterday to rest.
Milwaukee: The Bucks are pretty securely nestled into the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Six games ahead of Philly but two and a half behind Boston, it's looking like Milwaukee with have the privilege of playing Miami in the first round. They are dangerous, with a high-octane guard rotation of Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick and long-armed defensive wizard Larry Sanders backing them up.
Last Time Out
New York: With the game tied going into the 4th quarter, Raymond Felton scored 10 points in the final frame to help the Knicks beat the Hawks, 95-82, on Wednesday.
Milwaukee: Lost to Minnesota, 107-98, on Wednesday after giving up 27 points to Timberwolves' center Nikola Pekovic.
The Numbers Game
The Bucks lead the league in field goals attempted. They are also fourth in pace and 25th in field goal percentage.
Bonus Stat: Carmelo Anthony scored 50 points against the Heat without making a single shot within 15 feet of the hoop. Against the Hawks, he scored 40 and made seven shots inside of 15 feet.
Matchup to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Ersan Ilyasova
Melo is in the zone right now, so it will be interesting to see how Milwaukee defends him. It has to be an entire team approach, but Marquis Daniels could get a shot, as could Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, a strong defender who is limited offensively. Ilyasova, who will start opposite Anthony, is a stretch 4 that can really shoot from deep (45% over the last two years) and is coming off of a 29-point showing on Wednesday.
What to Look For
We'll all be watching to see if Melo remains on fire with a day separating him from 50 and then 40 back-to-back. Same goes for J.R. Smith, whose offensive renaissance has really become a leading storyline for this team. Tyson Chandler played in back-to-back games after missing more than two weeks with a neck injury, so we''ll monitor how he responds. The Knicks have beaten Milwaukee in both of the previous two meetings this season, both by double digits. The Bucks have some talent, but they are so inefficient with their offense that the Knicks should be able to pound them with patient, unselfish offense and consistent focus on D.