The New York Knicks are coming off a tough road loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. New York controlled the game in the first half leading by as many as 15 points and took an eight-point lead into halftime. The Cavs battled back in the second half, leading by one after three quarters and didn't look back. Cleveland took control in the fourth, outscoring New York, 26-17, and would go on to win their fourth straight game by a score of 96-86. Melo led the Knicks in scoring with 17 points and also led in rebounds with 12.
The Milwaukee Bucks were off to an 0-3 start, allowing their opponents to score over 100 points in each game. However, they are coming off their second straight win after defeating the winless 76ers, 91-87, on Wednesday night. Jabari Parker made his season debut for Milwaukee since tearing his ACL last December during his rookie season. He played only 16 minutes and struggled to find his shot, only scoring two points on 1 for 6 shooting. Khris Middleton led the team in scoring with 21 points.
These two teams faced each other on opening night last week with the Knicks beating the Bucks, 122-97. New York had six players score in double figures and also got a big boost from the bench with 73 points. Derrick Williams led the team in scoring with 24 points. The Knicks should expect a better performance from the Bucks tonight.
This time around, Milwaukee will have Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo at their disposal; they both missed the opener. Parker will likely boost their scoring, and Antetokounmpo will challenge the Knicks both offensively and defensively. A break for the Knicks is the fact that O.J. Mayo has yet to take the court dealing with a hamstring injury, and John Henson has missed the past four games dealing with a sore left Achilles. Michael Carter-Williams did not play Wednesday against the 76ers due to an ankle injury. O.J. Mayo has already been ruled out for this upcoming game and Henson and Carter-Williams are doubtful.
Carmelo Anthony is still struggling to find his shot but is not frustrated by this. "I know it'll come back," Melo said. "Those shots that I'm taking are shots that I normally make, so I'm not too concerned about that. But I do want them to go in."
The Knicks need Melo to get into a rhythm early in this game. They also need more production from their starting point guard Jose Calderon, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can be effective. Jerian Grant has done well so far when called upon but Derek Fisher is likely to stick with Calderon for now.
Something to keep an eye on is that the Knicks have not scored a fast break point in their last two games. Look for them to push the pace more in this game, something Fisher has been preaching since the start of the season. Knicks shooting guard, Arron Afflalo, returned to practice Tuesday and could make his debut in Friday night's game.
Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. EST.