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Monday, November 5, 2012
W2W4: Knicks at Sixers

By Ian Begley

The Knicks are off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 1999-2000. The last time they went 3-0? 1999-2000. They'll be looking to duplicate that start Monday night when they take on the Sixers in Philly.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on:

DOIN' IT WITH DEFENSE: Mike Woodson must've been a happy man on Monday morning.

The Knicks have done plenty right during their first two wins of the season, but more than any other aspect of the game, they've gotten it done on the defensive end.

And that's what Woodson's built his reputation on.

"I think we got started on the right foot," he said on Sunday.

The Knicks' stingy effort on defense started Friday when they limited the defending champion Heat to 84 points, including just 16 points in the paint. Their one-on-one defense was strong on the perimeter, particularly against the pick and roll. This prevented Miami from penetrating and creating easy buckets.

The defensive effort continued on Sunday, when the Knicks limited Philly to 84 points on 43 percent shooting. They played clean defense as well; Philly made just 10 trips to the free-throw line.

It all adds up to this: The Knicks have held their first two opponents to 84 points or fewer for just the second time since the 1954-55 season.

Can they keep it up on Monday against a Philly team without Andrew Bynum (knee) and Jason Richardson (ankle)?

EFFICIENT ANTHONY: Carmelo Anthony's never been known as a strong defender, but he's helped spearhead the Knicks' effort on defense in the first two games.

He was extremely physical against LeBron James on Friday night and seemed engaged on nearly every possession. His high-energy approach continued on Sunday. Take this play as an example: he knocked the ball away from Nick Young on the Sixers guard's attempt at the rim and then dove into the second row of seats to try and save the ball.

"It's really contagious when you see your star player going out there, diving in the crowd, giving up open shots, going for loose balls," J.R. Smith said. "It really filters throughout the team, so as long as he keeps doing that, I think everybody won't have a problem doing it."

Anthony also had an efficient afternoon on the offensive end against Philly. He had 27 points on 18 shots, a departure from Friday night's performance (30 points on 28 shots).

THE COLLINS FACTOR: Melo knows how tough it is to beat a team on back-to-back nights in the NBA.

"I mean, the X’s and O’s go out the window at this point. We know what they’re going to do. They know what we’re going to do," Anthony said. "Pretty sure (Sixers) coach (Doug) Collins is going to make some adjustments, so it’s just a matter of us going out there and competing."

Jrue Holliday (27 points, 11-for-18 shooting) had a big game on Sunday, as did Thaddeus Young (16 points, 7-for-14 shooting). So the Knicks will no doubt make some adjustments themselves.

On Philly's end, can Collins devise a plan to temper the Knicks' ball movement and ability to create open shots? That'll be the key for the Sixers.

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