Friday, March 28, 2014
W2W4: Knicks at Suns
By Ian Begley
Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Suns game:
Inching closer to 8th? Back on March 1, the Knicks were six games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. On Friday, they sit 1 1/2 games back of Atlanta with 10 games to play.
The Knicks have won nine of ten and are 9-4 in March. They are one win shy of tying their highest win total for a month this season. The Knicks went 10-6 in January. A win Friday would pull the Knicks to within one game of Atlanta, which has lost five straight.
Atlanta plays at Washington on Saturday night. The Knicks play at Golden State on Sunday.
Amar'e's return: The Knicks can thank Amar'e Stoudemire for their strong March. They are 9-3 since Stoudemire was in the starting lineup.
Stoudemire's averaging 17.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game on 58 percent shooting as a starter. He's been praised by Mike Woodson, ex-Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni and his teammates in recent days for persevering through multiple knee injuries.
Stoudemire will no doubt be motivated tonight against Phoenix. He started his career with the Suns before signing with the Knicks as a free agent in 2010. The Suns declined to match the Knicks' offer to Stoudemire over concerns surrounding his oft-injured knees.
The Knicks could use a strong performance in the front court from Stoudemire on Friday as the Suns backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe give them an advantage on that end of the floor.
Best against the West:Carmelo Anthony's played well against Western Conference teams this season. In his last seven games against West opponents, Anthony's averaged 33.7 points per game.
In his five games prior to that, Anthony averaged 26 points per game.
Anthony, though, has lost 12 straight road games against the Suns, per STATS LLC.