The New York Knicks own the best record in the Eastern
Conference, and are the NBA’s only remaining unbeaten team at
They may have to withstand another absence by Carmelo Anthony to
continue that run.
With Anthony’s status unclear, the Knicks will try to improve to
10-0 at Madison Square Garden for the first time in 21 years as
they face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night.
New York (17-5) has opened the season with nine wins in a row at
home, averaging 106.6 points while hitting 43.0 percent from beyond
the arc – a staggering 12.2 3-pointers per game.
The Knicks haven’t enjoyed a better start at MSG since beginning
11-0 in 1991-92.
Anthony has been the catalyst, scoring 29.0 points per game at
home while averaging 36.3 in New York’s current three-game win
streak – including 45 across the river in Brooklyn on Tuesday.
He scored 22 of his 30 points in the opening quarter Thursday
before spraining his left ankle in the third of New York’s 116-107
win over the Los Angeles Lakers, which opened this season-high
“He’s fun to watch when he’s playing like that,” said center
Tyson Chandler, who had 18 points. “He’s pretty much unstoppable
when he’s playing that way.”
It’s uncertain if Anthony will be playing at all Saturday.
That could leave the Knicks without the league’s second-leading
scorer for the third time in six games. They split visits to Miami
and Chicago without him last week before he returned from a cut on
his finger with 34 points in Sunday’s win over Denver.
Raymond Felton picked up the slack in his absence last week,
scoring 27 apiece in the win against the Heat and the loss to the
Felton is second on the team with an average of 15.9 points and
its leader with 6.8 assists, but he’s struggled with his shot
lately. He’s shooting just 30.2 percent since Anthony’s return
against the Nuggets.
One of Felton’s worst performances last season came against
Cleveland in a win with Portland on Jan. 8. He was 1 of 9 from the
floor and finished with two points.
The Knicks have averaged 111.3 points while winning three in a
row against the Cavaliers (5-19) at MSG.
Cleveland, 2-12 on the road, has dropped seven of eight this
month while scoring 89.8 points per contest behind 38.5 percent
The Cavaliers’ struggles continued with Friday’s 90-86 loss to
Milwaukee, as they committed 27 turnovers – their highest total
since having 28 in an overtime win against Golden State on Jan. 20,
Coach Byron Scott was left searching for answers.
“I have no idea,” Scott said. “If I knew that I’d bottle it up
and make a lot of money because I have no idea.”
The Cavaliers are also dealing with a pair of banged-up stars in
Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejao.
Irving, the team leader with 22.5 points per game, took a nasty
fall in the first quarter Friday. He returned to the game and
finished with 26 points, but an examination later showed he
suffered a broken bone in his jaw. Irving did not accompany the
team to New York so he could be fitted with a protective mask, but
he plans to play Saturday.
Varejao also was knocked out of Friday’s win after sustaining a
lower left leg contusion, but X-rays were negative and he returned
to compile eight points and 18 boards.
The center leads the NBA with an average of 14.9 rebounds to
accompany his 14.0 points.
Injuries have forced Varejao to miss six of the last seven
meetings with the Knicks, while Irving scored 21 points in a 98-90
win against them at home April 20.