The eight seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs will be spotlighted on Monday night when the New York Knicks (24-25) host the surging Milwaukee Bucks (22-26) at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks currently own the eight spot, but another New York winning streak could perhaps propel the club into contention for the sixth or seventh spot. Every Eastern Conference team will want to avoid playing the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.
The Bucks are in ninth place, but have gained ground in the standings following a run of six-straight wins. Milwaukee has dropped two of their last three games.
Milwaukee has an elite point guard in Brandon Jennings, who has lit up the Knicks at the Garden in the past two visits. Jennings scored 36 points against the Knicks on Jan. 20, and scored 37 on Mar. 25, 2011.
A Jeremy Lin-Jennings duel might make for interesting theater. On Mar. 9, Jennings shot nine-for-18 from the field for 25 points in the Bucks victory, while Lin went eight-for-14 for 20 points.
Lin will be playing with a sore right knee. A Knicks spokesman said that Lin received treatment near his home, and is listed as questionable for the game.
We don't want to make any conclusions right now, Lin said of his knee, according to the New York Times.
New York may also be without Amare Stoudemire. The Knicks big man left Saturday's game against the Pistons with back soreness, and didn't attend Monday-morning shootarounds.
The Knicks are 6-1 since interim head coach Mike Woodson replaced Mike D'Antoni.
The game tips off at about 7:40 PM ET and can be seen on MSG. It can also be viewed online at http://nbaliveonline.com/streaming/
PREDICTION: With Stoudemire nursing a sore back, and Lin not at 100 percent, the Bucks stand a good chance of pulling off the road victory. This is a game for Carmelo Anthony to shine, as the spotlight will be on the small forward to make up for the lack of star power in the starting five with Lin and Stoudemire hobbled. Expect the Bucks backcourt to have a big impact, with newcomer Monta Ellis and Jennings looking to shoot early and often in what should be a rather tight game.
PREDICTED SCORE: Bucks over Knicks, 100-99
BETTING ODDS: Knicks by six