The New York Knicks can’t seem to get out of their early season funk, while the Oklahoma City Thunder are beating almost everything in sight. On paper, considering the talent involved and the form of both teams, this isn’t really a fair fight, but miracles do happen around this time of year.
The Thunder have won 17 of their last 19 games. While their loss to the Toronto Raptors did expose one or two flaws in the system, it’s not quite sure that the Knicks are a good enough team to take advantage of that. The Thunder are 8-1 against Eastern teams this season, and have won their last 8 road games against Eastern conference teams. Again, that loss to the Raptors at home might tell us a bit about complacency which can be seen in the way the team defends against opponents they don’t really feel can harm them during clutch moments, but everything else they’ve been doing this season teaches us this is a much better team than the Knicks.
A big factor, surprisingly, will be Carmelo Anthony, who is a game-time decision. He has won nine straight games against the Thunder dating back to his time with the Nuggets, averaging 30.2 points per game in those wins. The Knicks have other issues, like once again being without their point guard Raymond Felton, but missing Anthony will be a much bigger hit to their chances of generating the upset and finally winning in consecutive games.
For the Thunder, there are no health issues in the way. The question will mostly be how they rebound from their loss to the Raptors. Russell Westbrook wasn’t the one having the awful shooting night, it was Durant. Both players are from the “short memory” type, like most great players. Bad games are forgotten, unless they’re there to serve as motivation. Durant shot only 5-of-16 from the field, but mostly blamed the loss on luck instead of actually doing something wrong.
Prediction – While the Thunder aren’t the same team on the road, Westbrook and Durant are usually extra fired up after losses. If Carmelo Anthony is playing, the Knicks might put up a fight, because he provides a terrible mismatch for the Thunder’s defense, but without him it’s not going to be even remotely close.