Less than a year ago, Jeremy Lin was an unknown to most basketball fans. Now, he’s set to make, perhaps, the most highly anticipated return of the NBA season.
On Monday night, Jeremy Lin will play at Madison Square Garden for the first time since leaving the New York Knicks. Lin signed with the Houston Rockets in the offseason, after playing with the Knicks for much of last year.
The Rockets will visit the Knicks for a 7:30 p.m. ET start. You can watch the contest live on NBA TV.
The Knicks decision to let Lin go in the offseason caused a lot of controversy in the summer. New York refused to match Houston’s offer sheet of $25 million over three years, even though the point guard seemingly saved the team’s season. He led the Knicks to seven straight win at the height of “Linsanity,” becoming the biggest story of the regular season.
Through 23 games, New York seems to have made the right move in not re-signing Lin. The Rockets point guard has been inconsistent is his first year with Houston, making less than 40 percent of his shots.
Raymond Felton replaced Lin in the Knicks starting lineup. He, along with Jason Kidd, who’s has spent time at point guard, have been a big part of New York’s success this season. The Knicks are 18-5 with the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Carmelo Anthony’s play might be having the greatest impact on New York’s turnaround. He’s an early season MVP candidate, averaging 27.9 points per game, good for second in the league.
Anthony could be in line for a big offensive performance against Houston. The Rockets are the worst defensive team in the league, allowing 104 points per contest.
Fortunately for Houston, they may not have to worry about stopping Anthony. He missed the Knicks last game because of the ankle injury he suffered against the Los Angeles Lakers. His status has been called a game-time decision.
Even before Lin left New York, Anthony was vocal about the Knicks impending decision about the restricted free agent. He called the Rockets offer “ridiculous” since it would pay Lin $15 million in the final year of his deal.
In the first meeting between the two teams on Nov. 23, Anthony scored 37 points in a losing effort. Houston gave New York their biggest defeat of the season, 131-103.
The high-scoring game was not an aberration, based on the way the two teams have played, thus far. Houston and New York is third and fourth, respectively, in the NBA in points per game. Both teams rely on the three-point shot to get a lot of their points. No other NBA team has made more three points than the Knicks or Rockets.
Despite the result of their first matchup, the Knicks are heavy favorites. New York is giving Houston 10 points in Monday’s contest.
Prediction: The Rockets were unstoppable from three-point range in their first game against the Knicks, hitting 56 percent of their attempts. Don’t expect a repeat performance tonight. If Anthony plays, it will be very hard for Houston to slow down New York.
Predicted Score: New York 120, Houston 107