Carmelo Anthony: Sizing Up His Next 10 Games With The New York Knicks
So the 'Melo-drama is finally over (sorry for the bad pun).
Carmelo Anthony is finally a New York Knick, which is what he wanted and what the Knicks wanted. All it took was a few months, some drama and the re-emergence of Isiah Thomas to push the price to nearly double what the Nuggets first offered.
Now Carmelo's in New York, and now he'll be expected to be the guy who saves the Knicks and brings them back to respectability. As of right now, if the Playoffs started today, the Knicks would be the No. 6 seed in the East, the first Playoff trip since 2004 and only the second since 2001.
But the Sixers are hot and closing in fast, while the Knicks are entering an interesting part of their schedule. It's not exactly tough, but it's not soft either. So let's see how the Knicks will fare in Carmelo's first 10 games in Orange and Blue.
February 23: vs. Milwaukee
The Knicks first game after the All-Star Break also should be Carmelo's debut. And he gets to do it at home, in front of an adoring crowd.
The MSG crowd will pour their adoration onto Anthony, but the pressure will be on Anthony and the new Knicks to make a big entrance in a game they're expected to win. Milwaukee's not a bad team, but they've struggled this year, sitting 3.5 games out of the last Playoff spot even in the Eastern Conference.
When a game will have the expectations that this one will have, there's always a chance they can slip up here. But the Knicks have more talent than the Bucks and should win.
Final: Knicks 110-105 (1-0)
February 25: at Cleveland
This should be a cakewalk.
The first of two meetings with the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers in this 10-game stretch, and a game the Knicks should win. Yes, the Cavaliers aren't playing as bad as they were a couple of weeks ago and yes, they have finally won a game or two (they even beat the Lakers).
But if you're a team fighting to keep a Playoff spot and trying to gain respectability by trying to go on a run, this is a game you don't lose and you can't lose.
Final: Knicks 105-94 (2-0)
February 27: at Miami
The fourth and final meeting with the Miami Heat.
Miami blew the Knicks out of the water in the first meeting, but the two meetings afterwards were much closer and the Knicks bested the Heat at home back in January. That being said, the Heat are a much better team then the Knicks are, even with Carmelo.
It'll be a high-scoring affair, and definitely entertaining with all the star-gazing and firepower on the floor. But Miami will find a way to win.
Final: Heat 104-99 (2-1)
March 1: at Orlando
After the Miami game, it doesn't get any easier for the Knicks, who then have to complete the Florida swing with a trip to Orlando.
Surprisingly, this will be the first meeting of the season between the Knicks and the Magic, who had a game in November postponed because of problems at the Garden. So this will be a great test for the Knicks, especially considering the Knicks are not the most defensively strong team in the league. If they can contain Dwight Howard, then they'll have a chance. Odds are they won't.
Final: Magic 109-96 (2-2)
March 2: vs New Orleans
The attention surrounding this game should be through the roof, considering the talk about Carmelo possibly luring Chris Paul to New York down the road. It's also another game against a quality opponent for the Knicks, a team solidly in the Playoffs out West who's not dominant but not awful either.
This is the best chance the Knicks will have to steal a game they need to steal against a good team, especially with Utah, Memphis and Dallas down the line. It's a fun up-and-down game, but a game the Knicks will need to avoid a three game losing streak. But considering it's the back end of a back-to-back after the physical Magic the night before, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Knicks lose this one.
Final: Hornets 99-97 (2-3)
March 4: vs Cleveland
Everything said about the first Knicks-Cavs game holds true here. The Knicks can't afford to lose this game, especially since this would make it a four-game losing streak with four straight playoff teams looming to finish off the stretch.
The Knicks know they need this game, and that they have to win this game. They also lost to Cleveland early in the season, so all bets are really off. But this is definitely a easy game for the Knicks.
Final: Knicks 107-90 (3-3)
March 6: at Atlanta
Another away-home back-to-back for the Knicks, this time starting in Atlanta against a Hawks team sitting in front of the Knicks in the East. It's also the first of seven straight games against teams who would currently make the postseason if it started today, so it's an important test for New York.
We also remember the melee that happened the last time these two teams met, so there's some history here too. I'm not that impressed with what the Hawks can do, and considering the stretch the Knicks will be encountering, this could be a pivotal game.
But Joe Johnson finds a way to break the Knicks' heart.
Final: Hawks 112-109 (3-4)
March 7: vs Utah
It doesn't get any easier for the Knicks, who come in facing a Utah Jazz team that's holding on to the last Playoff spot in the Western Conference as of this posting.
Obviously a lot can change between now and then, but the Jazz will be fighting for their lives and be a very desperate team coming in. But Utah's also one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, something that could play to the Knicks' advantage. Again, it'll all depend on the flow of the game, and it should be fun watching Deron Williams and 'Melo battle up and down the floor. But the Knicks need this game and it's winnable for them.
Final: Knicks 104-101 (4-4)
March 9: at Memphis
Okay, so show of hands, who thought the Grizzlies would be tied for the last Playoff spot in the West in late February?
Despite the Grizzlies (who have very quietly had a very strong season) desperation to fight for the Playoffs, this is a winnable game for the Knicks. Ama're Stoudemire can dominate the Grizz down low, even with Marc Gasol and others, and Carmelo has the ability to take the game over. If the Knicks can get some stops, this is a very winnable game.
Final: Knicks 109-99 (5-4)
March 10: at Dallas
Another back-to-back for the Knicks, this one in Dallas against a very good Mavericks team that finds ways to win basketball games. Of course, watching Dirk Nowitzki against Ama're will be one of the highlights, just like watching Anthony against Shawn Merion should be another matchup to watch.
But the key will be the point guards, and Chauncey Billups versus Jason Kidd. Whoever can make the most plays and hit the clutch shot when he needs to will win the game for his team. It's very close, but the Knicks have to win one of these back-to-backs eventually.
Final: Knicks 110-109 (Final Record 6-4)