The first meeting between Carmelo Anthony and his former team will highlight Saturday’s 10-game NBA schedule when the New York Knicks host the Denver Nuggets at Madison Square Garden. Tip-off is planned for 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Ironically, just a few of Anthony’s old teammates are still playing for the Nuggets, who have totally reshaped their roster and are off to a much better start than the Knicks. In Denver’s previous trip to New York last season, the only two players joining Anthony in the lineup who are still starting for the Nuggets are shooting guard Arron Afflalo and power forward Nene Hilario. Both of them signed five-year deals in the offseason to remain with the team, something Anthony did not want when he publicly demanded a trade.
Anthony was sent to the Knicks last February 21 in a blockbuster deal, but things have not worked out according to plan.
New York had dropped four straight games heading into Friday night’s matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. Anthony has been bothered by an ankle injury that caused him to miss one game and struggle mightily in two more since then, as he has made just 14 of his 49 attempts from the field (29%), including 2-of-10 from 3-point range. The Knicks have covered the spread in the last five meetings with the Nuggets, but in four of those games they were underdogs.
Denver is heading in the opposite direction with four wins in five games going into a visit with the Washington Wizards on Friday. The team improved to 6-1 against the spread on the road after pulling out a 108-104 overtime win against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. The Nuggets will try to continue New York’s struggles at home, where the Knicks had gone 1-9 ATS in their previous 10 before facing the Bucks.
Anthony is not the only Eastern Conference star who has been fighting an injury, as the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks have all been without one of their top players lately. The Heat have bounced back from a season-high three-game losing streak by winning two straight in impressive fashion despite being without shooting guard Dwyane Wade due to an ankle injury.
Wade’s absence has allowed star teammate LeBron James to shine, as he has averaged 32 points in helping beat the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers at home. Miami hosts Philadelphia next on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series. The Heat beat the 76ers in five games but went 2-3 ATS.
The Bulls have played their last two games without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, who has been dealing with a sprained big toe. They will be coming off a home game on Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers when they host the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Rose played in back-to-back nights last Friday and Saturday before sitting out Monday and Tuesday with Chicago splitting those games.
The Hawks are surprisingly riding a four-game winning streak since losing power forward Al Horford for at least three months with a torn pectoral muscle. They host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:00 p.m. and have covered the last six meetings in the series, winning the past four.
Lone Star State rivals San Antonio and Houston will also square off Saturday when the Rockets host the Spurs. San Antonio took a 1.5-game lead in the Southwest Division into Friday's home tilt with Sacramento, with idle Houston two back. The Rockets are 6-1 at home this season, also going 6-1 vs. the number on their home floor, while the Spurs are 1-5 away from home both straight up and against the spread.
This will be the third time the two have met on the schedule, each winning at home and Houston covering both contests. The Rockets were 3-point underdogs in Houston on Dec. 29 when they pulled off the 105-85 upset.