In taking a step down, Amar’e Stoudemire stepped up for the New York Knicks.
Stoudemire admitted what anyone who has seen the Knicks play this season already knew: “It’s ‘Melo’s team,” after being asked whether the team was his or Carmelo Anthony’s.
Clearly, New York will go as far as Anthony can take them. He is an MVP Candidate with 29.2 PPG, 2.5 APG, and 6.1 RPG, and has led the Knicks to the top of the Atlantic Division with a 25-13 record.
Over the next three games, New York will play three division rivals: the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, Boston Celtics on Thursday, and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. The Nets have been playing extremely well since P.J. Carlesimo took the place of Avery Johnson as head coach, winning eight of their last nine games and moving within two games of the Knicks for the Division lead.
“Big, big, big stretch for us,” Stoudemire said on the upcoming week. “Those are three tough games.”
Opposing teams would rather anyone but Anthony beat them, so they are doing everything they can to keep the ball out of his hands. Anthony will have to play with poise, patience, and with trust in his teammates.
The last time the Knicks and Celtics met, Anthony and Kevin Garnett exchanged words which resulted in the Knicks star waiting for KG at the Boston bus after the game. After serving a one-game suspension for his actions, Anthony will have to play under control this week when New York and Boston meet. As Garnett continued to harass him, Anthony was 6-26 from the field for just 20 points.
This week will determine a lot for the Knicks. New York can either further distance themselves from their competition, or give the Nets, Celtics, and Sixers a chance to catch them for the division lead.
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