On a night the 1972-73 championship team will be honored, the New York Knicks host the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden in search of their 11th straight win Friday.
The last team to hoist an NBA championship banner in the Garden may have trouble overshadowing a Knick team that has re-found the early season groove that catapulted them to the top of the Eastern Conference before injuries got the best of the oldest team in league history.
New York has tied the 1993-94 Knicks that won 10 straight, and also went to the Finals.
Showing no signs of the knee injury that terrified New York fans, forward Carmelo Anthony continued his torrent on opposing defenses with 40 points in the Knicks 95-82 win over the Atlanta Hawks Wednesday.
Anthony now has 90 points in his last two games, and is two-tenths of a point away from the title of NBA scoring leader at 28.1 points per game.
Point guard Raymond Felton was the only other starter in double figures, collecting 14 points and five rebounds, with three steals. J.R. Smith came of the pine for 19 points, but also committed five turnovers.
Three-point shooting was the sexy reason for New York’s early season success, but head coach Mike Woodson’s defensive philosophy was the actual culprit, though the Knicks shied away from defense halfway through the year.
Now during the winning streak opponents are averaging 90.4 points a contest even with center Tyson Chandler out for eight games with a neck injury, and the Knicks are seventh overall in defense.
Milwaukee is poised to make the playoffs with a six-game lead over Philadelphia for the eight spot, but could still challenge Boston for the No. 7 spot if they break out of a cold spell of just two wins in their last 10 games.
The Bucks recently fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 107-98, with Ersan Ilyasova pouring in a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Monta Ellis had 18 points, shooting 7-for-20 from the field, and center Larry Sanders tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ellis had six turnovers against Minnesota, the ninth time this season with as many as six, and is averaging 3.1 per game.
Sanders is second in the league at 2.88 blocks per game, but the Milwaukee defense had trouble controlling the paint, allowing 58 points from close range.
The game tips-off at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast by MSG Network, or you can watch a live online stream by purchasing NBA League Pass Broadband here.
Betting Odds: New York is favored by 7 points.
Over/Under: 202 points
Prediction: The Knicks have beaten Milwaukee by an average of 12 points in two games this season. New York should repeat that success with Anthony and Smith firing away. Ellis and point guard Brandon Jennings can swing the game in Milwaukee’s favor by attacking the basket often and early, drawing fouls and free throws.
Predicted Score: New York 100, Milwaukee 94