Good evening, friends. We've got another late game tonight, which means we get extra hours to mull what lies ahead. That mulling, for me, is dread. The Nuggets are fast-paced, they've got a killer point guard in Ty Lawson, their bigs crash the offensive glass and score in the paint, and they defend and shoot better than they did earlier in the season.
I keep looking back at the previous Knicks-Nuggets game for hope, and there is indeed some to be found. The Knicks took that one without a big performance from Carmelo Anthony (he was coming off an injury then, too, and shot just 10-24) and without shooting very well as a team. They just won the turnover battle, kept the Nuggets off the offensive glass, and got to the line a bunch.
Then again, this one's in Denver, and the Nuggets don't do much losing in Denver (second best home record in the league). They're gonna run and run and run on the Knicks, which is why limiting turnovers and, if possible, never missing any shots and o-bounding all the ones that do miss are crucial for New York to compete. If the Knicks don't play waaaay tighter than they have been recently, this has the potential to resemble the Golden State game, only with more dunks than threes and less available oxygen.
And yeah, there's the whole Melo angle. The crossover in recent history between players on these two teams is crazy-- it won't actually happen, but we could technically see a five-on-five battle of former Knicks vs. former Nuggets-- but all anyone cares about is Melo returning to Denver. It's his first trip back to the Pepsi Center, which is weird. It makes sense, given the timing of the trade and the effects of the lockout, but it's still weird. I wonder if the passage of time will have any effect on Melo's reception, though there's obviously no way of knowing how Melo would have been received if he returned, say, last season, when the trade was fresher in people's minds. It's been interesting to check out the wonderful Denver Stiffs today and read about their Melo feelings two years after the trade. Feelings are mixed, but understandably skew negative.
But anyway, I don't think the return means that much to us Knicks fans-- I'm way more intrigued by the prospect of Raymond Felton playing in front of a Portland crowd that HATES him, whereas I expect Melo's reception to be kinda muddled-- but this game surely means something to Melo. That's probably why he is, last we checked, going to play tonight despite the knee weirdness. That thing is clearly still bugging him and likely needs to be drained of its synovial nectar, but he'll probably give it a go anyway and push extra hard to make an impact. If previous games against Denver are any indicator, that's not going to be fun to watch, but I guess we'll see. (Also bound to be interestign: J.R. Smith playing in Denver and against George Karl.)
I'm not looking forward to tonight's game. I'm worried the Knicks are set for a second straight bespanking. I'm concerned about Melo and his knee. I'm preemptively annoyed about how this meeting has to serve as a referendum on the trade and a showcase for everything that makes the Nuggets so sleek and cute and wonderful and the Knicks so garish and loathsome to everyone but us. I hope so desperately that the Knicks can surprise us (well, me) again and take care of a team that looks designed to destroy them. They managed to do that in December, but it seems the odds are stacked higher against them this time around.
Share your pre-game thoughts here and feel free to comment along with the early games as well. And tell me your dinners, of course. Tip-off tonight is at 10:30 and a thread will be up between now and then. <3