The Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks are going in opposite directions to start the 2011-12 NBA season.
The Nuggets have jumped out to an 11-5 record, including winning their last three games – all on the road. While the Knicks have struggled, dropping their last five games and hold a dismal 6-9 record.
Not quite what many expected from these two teams after the Nuggets traded Carmelo Anthony to New York, especially with the way the two squads have built their team.
The Knicks have added Tyson Chandler to join Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and complete their Big Three. While the Nuggets have gone in a different direction, resigning Nene and Arron Afflalo and keeping their current team intact. Denver’s only additions were Corey Brewer, Rudy Fernandez and Andre Miller, all of which play with the Nuggets stellar second unit.
The biggest story line in this game will be centered around Anthony facing his former team. He had this to say to the media after Friday night’s embarrassing to the Milwaukee Bucks,
You can’t compare our team to Denver. Denver got five starters in that trade. Denver’s a (heck) of a team. They’re one of the deepest teams in the NBA right now. But we just want to go out there and win (Saturday). It’s not too much about Denver, it’s much more about us. We’ve got to find the will to win (Saturday).
I take it as a must-win for us. Me, personally, I have nothing to prove in the game tomorrow. I spent seven-and-a-half years in Denver, I did a lot in Denver and I have nothing to prove out there (Saturday) night. I just want to win the basketball game, and I’ll be satisfied
Anthony statistically isn’t having a bad season, but he is shooting a career-low .412 from the field. He is averaging a career best 4.1 assists but has struggled with turnovers.
The same can be said about Stoudemire, who is averaging only 18.1 points – which is the second lowest scoring average of his career. He is also shooting a dismal .412 from the field.
Chandler is having solid, but unspectacular season, averaging 10.1 points and 9.6 rebounds a game.
While the Knicks have their Big Three, they have ignored their need for a point guard. They did sign elder statesmen Mike Bibby (33 years old) and Baron Davis (32) to go with Toney Douglas a scoring machine and rookie Iman Shumpert.
Another former Nugget playing for the Knicks is Renaldo Balkman, who has only played eight games this season and is averaging 3.8 points and 2.6 rebounds a contest.
For the Nuggets, Al Harrington, Timofey Mozgov and Danilo Gallinari are returning to the Big Apple, with Gallinari and Mozgov playing their first games at Madison Square Garden since the trade.
Harrington, who didn’t have a great season last year, played some of his best ball against the Knicks. He averaged 20.5 points against New York last season and hopefully gave the Knicks a sign of things to come after scoring a season-best 29 points against the Washington Wizards on Friday. Harrington led the Knicks in scoring during the 2008-09 seasons with 17.7 points and also the 2009-10 season with 20.7 points a contest.
Mozgov will be making his 15th start at center for the Nuggets and is averaging 4.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.
Gallinari is currently having the best season of his career, averaging a career-best 16.2 points and 1.75 steals a contest. He is also shooting .461 from the field, which is a career-high.
For the Nuggets it will be the fourth of five road games and currently Denver is 3-0 on the trip. The Knicks have lost five straight, including dropping their last three games at home.
One advantage for the Knicks is the Nuggets didn’t land in New York until 3 a.m. due to plane issues. But Denver will have Nene back, but Fernandez, who played limited minutes on Friday, is a game-time decision.
So the question is, who wants it more? Does vintage Melo show up to bury the Nuggets or does the Nuggets team mentality get the best of the Knicks?
Tags: Al Harrington Amare Stoudemire Andre Miller Arron Afflalo Baron Davis Carmelo Anthony Corey Brewer Danilo Gallinari Denver Nuggets Iman Shumpert Mike Bibby Milwaukee Bucks Nene New York Knicks Renaldo Balkman Rudy Fernandez Timofey Mozgov Toney Douglas Tyson Chandler Washington Wizards