After a loss to the Brooklyn Nets last week, the New York Knicks have regained first place and have won three straight games. While the Milwaukee Bucks, Washington Wizards, and Phoenix Suns aren’t the NBA’s elite, these are the games that top teams rarely slip up on, and the Knicks did not have a misstep.
Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring in each of the three games, averaging 27.7 during the three-game stretch. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Knicks center Tyson Chandler has shown improvements on the other side of the floor, averaging 18.0 points in his last four, including a career-high 28 points against the Nets.
The Knicks have a big challenge this week as they embark on a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday night against the Charlotte Bobcats. The following night, they face the Miami Heat, which should be a barometer of how successful the team can be. They finish the road trip in Chicago, before heading home to face Anthony’s former team, the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden.
Though the Knicks beat the Heat in the home opener, the Heat didn’t have the killer instinct to defeat the Knicks in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Both Lebron James and Dwyane Wade donated significant amounts of money to the relief efforts, and after the loss, weren’t really that bothered as I watched them in the locker room after the game.
That being said, with the success that the Knicks have had thus far this season, I expect the Heat to be focused on sending a message. A win by the Knicks would not only send a message to the Heat that they are legitimate contenders, but to the league as well.
The Nets were up by double figures over the Heat at halftime Saturday night, and then something happened. The Heat turned up the defensive pressure, and the Nets, who defeated the Orlando Magic the previous night, were unable to match the energy of their Eastern Conference foes.
The Nets were a lot more competitive than they were when they met the Heat the first time, a game in which they lost by 30 points. In this one the Nets led by as much as 14 points in the first half. Unfortunately for the Nets, they managed to score only 30 points in the second half and lost the game by 13.
The Brooklyn Nets have beaten Boston twice, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Knicks. Those are all quality wins for the team, but before this team can be taken seriously by all in the NBA as a legitimate title contender, they will need to defeat the defending NBA champions. The Knicks will look to do so for the second time this season Thursday night.