The New York Knicks come into their Christmas Day Matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder ailing in just about as many ways that is possible for an NBA team. For one, the Knicks have been struggling to get in-rhythm for the entirety of this season as they sit at just 9-18. More than that, though, this New York team comes into Christmas Day dealing with injuries to some of their more integral players.
Point guard Raymond Felton returned to action on Monday night from a hamstring injury, but only to hurt his groin in the fourth quarter, an injury that will keep him on the sidelines against OKC. The most crucial injury for the Knickerbockers, though, is the ankle sprain that star forward Carmelo Anthony is currently dealing with and that also makes Melo a game-time decision for Christmas Day.
Coming into this game between New York and OKC, the Thunder have the seventh best offense in terms of efficiency in the league, averaging 106 points per 100 possessions. Perhaps more importantly, though, the Thunder also have given the third best defensive effort in the league in terms of efficiency.
Meanwhile, the Knicks have ranked near the basement of the league in terms of their defensive efficiency. Obviously losing a player like Melo isn’t going to affect too much defensively, but the Knicks’ poor defense really necessitates that the Knicks outscore their opponents if they are going to get a win. If Anthony were to be out, though, outscoring opponents, especially a team like Oklahoma City, seems near impossible.
The Thunder are almost surely going to win this game on Christmas Day, no matter if Anthony plays or not. This OKC team is a well-oiled machine of controlled chaos that could absolutely annihilate the Knicks defense. If Anthony doesn’t play in this game, I’d expect that the Knicks will have some issues defensively. In essence, though, Melo’s status is only going to affect if this game is a respectable loss or another embarrassment for this Knicks team.