The Denver Nuggets aren’t the same team sans George Karl, but they are far from a pushover, especially for a Knicks team that sports a home record of just 11-17.
Despite a three-game losing streak, including a loss to the NBA’s worst team, the Knicks are just two and a half games out of a playoff spot. At this point, every game is a must-win, regardless of the opponent, but given a road matchup with the Western Conference leading Oklahoma City Thunder looming on Sunday, this one is that much more important.
The departures of Andre Iguodala and last year’s Coach of the Year have “dropped” the Nuggets all the way to barely above .500, but their 24-23 record would put them just one game out of a three-seed in the East. Like last season’s squad, this Denver team loves to push the pace, but right now they’re missing several key offensive pieces. New York’s beloved Nate Robinson tore his ACL last week, forcing him to the injured reserve, where he joined another former Knick in Danilo Gallinari, who hasn’t seen game action since last April, when he did some ACL damage himself. Without Robinson, Randy Foye has picked up a ton of playing time. Foye dropped 17 points against the Knicks last time around and sealed the win with a block on Carmelo Anthony’s last second field goal attempt. He’s the random type of player that gives the Knicks fits, but Ty Lawson is the one New York will have to keep under control if they’re going to exact revenge. Lawson is having a career-year, with averages of 18.1 points and 8.9 assists, and his speed is what makes the Denver offense hum. The Denver frontcourt is beatable, but someone on the Knicks will have to keep up with the relentless motor of Kenneth Faried.
More than anything, a Knicks-Nuggets matchup is grounds for the haters to explain why New York gave up too much for Melo, despite the fact that Gallo is hurt, Raymond Felton is back with the Knicks, and Timofey Mozgov is, well, Timofey Mozgov.