Starting with a win over Milwaukee, the Knicks have alternated wins and losses over Carmelo Anthony's first seven games as a Knick. They were just in Atlanta last night where they beat the Hawks 92-79. However, they've also lost to the Cavaliers twice while beating the Heat.
Despite being just three games over .500 (32-29), they're sixth in the east and a near lock for the playoffs. They could make some noise there, but this team is being built with eyes on 2012 when they could land another high-profile free agent to complete their own version of a big three. Signing Stoudemire and trading for Anthony are just the first two steps in that process.
There was a lot of division amongst fans and others over whether they gave up too much to land Melo. He was likely going to sign there regardless this off-season. If the plan is for 2012 and beyond, why give up such talents such as Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, and Raymond Felton when Anthony only had eyes for the Big Apple?
As well all know too well, the Nuggets have been playing well with the infusion of talent acquired from New York. Instead of imploding after the trade, they're playing some of their best ball of the season.
The Jazz have beaten the Knicks one already this season in one of the best games I've seen in person. That was a high-paced game with both teams shooting lights out in a 131-125 Jazz victory. Shawne Williams lit up the Jazz for a career-high 25 points with seven made three-pointer in eight attempts.
Neither team are quite the same since that trade. The Jazz underwent an organizational upheaval as Jerry Sloan retired abruptly and then a short two weeks later, the team traded their franchise point guard in Deron Williams. New York brought in Melo, but shipped out a lot of talent in the process. So using the last game as any kind of indicator for tonight's game is kind of pointless.
What can be said is that the Jazz and Knicks are still two of the the top 10 offenses in the league. Where both teams struggle is on defense where the Jazz rank 19th in defensive efficiency while the Knicks are 22nd. So while we can't use the previous game as a barometer for this one, we should still see a high-scoring affair tonight. The last game also saw both teams attempt a total of 77 free throws. Both teams foul a lot so we might get there again.
The Jazz need every game now if they're to get back into the playoffs. Tonight's game won't be easy and I'm sure Melo will be eager to welcome his one-time rival to his new digs.
I have no reason to believe that the Jazz have suddenly turned up their defensive prowess. If they can get some timely stops down the stretch, they have enough offense to keep up with New York and perhaps sneak out a win over a Knicks team that may be a bit tired after playing in Atlanta last night.