Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game 31: Nuggets @ Knicks

(Boulder-CO) With the return of Carmelo Anthony expected today for the Denver star's homecoming his timing couldn't be better. The Nuggets start a four-game road trip today that starts in New York before stops at Atlanta, Toronto, and Oklahoma City and despite the Nuggets 2-1 record without their leading scorer, Denver has missed him sorely.

If history is any indication of what we might expect from Carmelo his return should be a good one. Of all the 29 teams Carmelo has faced in his career, it's the Knicks that he loves to play the most. Anthony is averaging 27.4 points in 10 contests against the Knicks, including when "Feelings Hardened at the Garden". And that's a good thing because this year's New York Knicks have not had a problem putting the ball in the basket. Currently, New York and Denver are averaging 104.5 (NY) and 102.2 (DEN) points per game.
If you haven't been paying much attention to the Knicks (except for maybe in the sports tabloids) there is a good possibility their new compliment of players may come as a surprise. For starters, here are the starters:
G- Chris Duhon- 11.7 points, 8.4 assists, 3.4 rebounds- career-highs in both points and assists.
G- Quentin Richardson (returning from ankle sprain)- 12.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists
SF- Wilson Chandler- 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists
PF- Al Harrington- 22.9 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists
C- David Lee- 14.3 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists- career-highs in both points and rebounds.
For the Nuggets, their starting five should return to normal with Dahntay Jones and Chauncey Billups in the backcourt, and Carmelo Anthony, Kenyon Martin, and Nene filling out the bigs.
Both teams do one thing extremely well. The Knicks are currently the NBA's leading three-point shooting team by volume. New York hoists 29.6 three's per game and connect on more per game (10.6) than any other team. Similarly, the Nuggets are currently the NBA's leading free-throw shooting team by volume. Denver gets to free-throw line an average of 29.8 times per game and connect on a league-high 22.8 of those attempts.
However, the Knicks have not played much defense as of late and as a result have lost their last five games while allowing 115.2 points on average. Additionally, New York's opposition have been enjoying the Knicks rather porous defense as they have shot a combined 41.1% from long distance and over 50% from the field; a deadly combination against Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
So, keep Nate Robinson away from J.R. Smith and feed Carmelo the rock! 'Melo loves to give the New York fans a reason to cheer and with D'Antoni's reluctancy to play defense today's Sunday matinee should be a entertaining one to say the least.
Go Nuggets!

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