New York Knicks Set To Face Toughest Test

By A.J. Speier

Despite winning their first five games to start the season, the New York Knicks (5-0) still have plenty of doubters.

Critics are claiming the season-opening victory over the Miami Heat was a fluke. They believe Hurricane Sandy was a distraction for the defending champions and the Knicks just took advantage of the situation.

People have also attacked the Knicks back-to-back victories over the Philadelphia 76ers because of the injury that has caused their star center Andrew Bynum to miss time. Game 4 was against the Dallas Mavericks, who were without Dirk Nowitzki and Game 5 was against the rebuilding Orlando Magic.

Now the Knicks will face a “real test” as they face the NBA’s second and third-best teams according to record.

The San Antonio Spurs (7-1) will host the Knicks on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. and the Memphis Grizzlies (6-1) will host the Knicks on Friday at 9:30 p.m. Both games will be nationally televised with the first on TNT and the second on ESPN.

Carmelo Anthony is the league-leading scorer with an average of 26.8 points per game. J.R. Smith has made a league-best 72.2-percent from 3-point range and his 18.2 points per game rank 23rd in the NBA. Tyson Chandler ranks fifth in shooting from the field at 63.3-percent.

Tim Duncan’s team-high 18.8 points rank 20th among scorers, his 9.6 rebounds rank 15th and his 2.75 blocks rank 3rd. Danny Green has made 47.2-percent from 3-point range, which ranks 18th-best

Rudy Gay’s team-high 20.7 points have him tied for eight-best in the league. Zach Randolph leads in rebounds with an average of 14 per game and his 16.7 points rank 30th-best. Backup point guard Jerryd Bayless ranks 7th as 3-point shooter, knocking down 55.6-percent of his shots.

Team Scoring-wise, the Knicks rank 2nd with 103.4 points per game, the Grizzlies rank 5th with 101.6 and the Spurs rank 18th with 96.6.

Defensively, the Knicks have the best team, allowing just 87.7 points per game. The Grizzlies are tied 7th-best with 92.4 points allowed and the Spurs rank 9th-best with 92.6 points allowed.

If the Knicks are able to push their winning-streak to seven, it’ll match their best start in the history of the franchise. During the 1993-94 season, the Knicks began the season 7-0 and finished within a game of winning the NBA title. They lost in Game 7 of the NBA Finals to the Houston Rockets 90-84.

Follow A.J. Speier on Twitter @Ajbisons for articles, news, and all things NBA

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