New York Knicks vs. Oklahoma City Thunder pregame: Carmelo Anthony's return
(Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony is returning to Madison Square Garden for the first time to face his old teammates — and his old fans.

The New York Knicks will be hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight and are looking to win their fourth straight game and move to three games above .500. While the struggling Thunder coming in to take on a youthful and exciting Knicks team could be the storyline, it’s not.

Fans are going to be hyper-focusing on Carmelo Anthony in his return to the place where he played for seven seasons. It’s unclear whether Knicks fans will cheer or boo the 10-time all-star, but I have a feeling every fan in the building will let ‘Melo know exactly how they feel.

Anthony was exactly the type of player that fans either loved or hated. For better or for worse, his time in New York will always be a large part of his legacy. He took his team to the second round of the playoffs once. The Knicks missed the playoffs in his last four seasons on the team. Anthony knows how a lot of Knicks fans feel about him and you can bet that he’s looking to have a big game in front of them tonight.

Despite the buildup and intriguing storylines in this game, it may not live up to the hype. Injuries and overuse are going to change the lineups for both teams tonight. Kristaps Porzingis is dealing with a sore left knee and is still questionable for tonight’s game. The Thunder are coming off of a triple overtime victory in Philadelphia in which four of their players played 45 minutes or more.

Carmelo Anthony is likely to see a reduction in minutes in tonight’s game. He may want to go out and give his average of about 33 minutes per game, but a realistic expectation could be around 25 minutes tonight.

Steven Adams has already been ruled out after playing 51 minutes and a large majority of those minutes came while he was covering Philadelphia’s precocious neophyte Joel Embiid. He is going through concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head late in last night’s game.

Paul George played 45 minutes last night, but he will likely still get a lion’s share of the minutes. He’s a superstar in his prime and the Thunder need to start finding their groove. He might see a slight dip in minutes, but he’s still capable of putting up huge numbers tonight.

Russell Westbrook played a career-high 52 minutes in last night’s game. I bet he went to the rec center after last night’s game against the Sixers to see if he could find another game. It really is incredible how he never looks tired and is always attacking whether it’s his first minute of the game or his 52nd minute. Joel Embiid came up with some huge plays late, but he was sucking wind on each play. Westbrook was attacking in transition every play and only pulling back when he saw that he was all by himself.

I doubt we see anything other than the most authentic version of Russell Westbrook tonight. Jarrett Jack has struggled mightily against more athletic guards this season. If he has to cover Russell Westbrook tonight, it could be a long night for Knicks fans. But maybe we’ll see another positive effort from the rookie Frank Ntilikina. It will be a great taste for Ntilikina who only played eight minutes when these two teams met in the season opener.

The Knicks are an excellent team at home and the Thunder have underperformed to this point in the season. Hopefully, Kristaps Porzingis is healthy enough to play because without him the Knicks will have their work cut out for them. My prediction is Knicks 104 – Thunder 95.

UPDATE: 

Per ESPN’s Ian Begley, Kristaps Porzingis will be sidelined with a sore knee. Michael Beasley will start in his place and Joakim Noah will be active.

New York Knicks

 

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