Everyone, temporarily at least, has stepped back from the ledge. The New York Knicks' important win Monday night over the Orlando Magic provided a respite from the doom and gloom of the past few weeks, where it looked like the Knicks would never win a game again and miss the playoffs. They may have been fortunate to win Monday, but Mike D'Antoni's team showed some rare heart and defensive effort. With a favorable three games on the horizon, which begins tonight against the New Jersey Nets, the Knicks will be looking to erase the bad feelings of the previous ten games. Three wins in their next three games, with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors up next, could give the Knicks some much needed confidence heading into the final portion of the regular season, and more importantly the playoffs.
Tonight could actually reveal a lot about these Knicks, against a banged up, shorthanded Nets team that has been struggling to score. New Jersey has been held under 88 points in its past three contests, all losses. The Nets will likely be without their new star, Deron Williams, who may miss his seventh straight game with a wrist injury. Aside from that, even a full strength Nets squad shouldn't normally provide much resistance for a team that is heading to the playoffs. The Nets com into the game at just 23-50, while the Knicks are looking to creep back up to the .500-mark, currently at 36-38.
Carmelo Anthony had his best half as a Knick in Monday's second half, so 'Melo will hope to pick up where he left off. For Anthony, it's not quite a case of showing the Nets what they could have had - everyone knows the Nets wanted Anthony, he just didn't want them. But this is indeed the first game for Anthony against the Nets as a member of the Knicks, and while there probably isn't any ill-will towards the Nets from Anthony, you know it's strongly there in the other direction.
Expect Anthony to take a lot of shots and try and put on a show, but it would probably benefit the Knicks more to get Amare Stoudemire back involved in the offense. The past few games, with Monday's win over the Magic the most stark example, Stoudemire has been relegated on the offensive end, especially in the fourth quarter. The Nets are a perfect matchup for Stoudemire, and the Knicks should see this as an opportunity to get Stoudemire out of his recent slump. An in-form Stoudemire will prove to be just as important to the Knicks down the stretch as Anthony.