Carmelo Anthony and the playoff-bound New York Knicks will resume a three-game road trip tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Knicks grabbed a postseason spot when Milwaukee lost to Indiana last night. New York is headed to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1999-00-2000-01 and was swept in four games by Boston a year ago.
New York is in the midst of playing four of five road games to close out the regular season and is one game ahead of Philadelphia for sole possession of the seventh spot in the East standings. The Knicks opened the trek with Wednesday's 104-95 victory at New Jersey behind Anthony's 33 points. Anthony entered the game averaging 31.2 points in his last 10, and was pleased with his team's performance post-game.
"These are fun times for me," Anthony said of New York's push towards the postseason. "I've been in the league nine years now and most of my career in Denver we had chances and opportunities like this to come down the stretch and win basketball games."
J.R. Smith chipped in 15 points off the bench and Tyson Chandler posted 18 points and 10 boards for the Knicks, winners in 15 of their last 20 games. New York improved to 12-18 away from home this season and will close out the trip Sunday in Atlanta.
Cleveland welcomed the return of Rookie of the Year candidate Kyrie Irving in Wednesday's 103-87 loss to the 76ers at home. Irving had missed nine straight games with a shoulder injury and showed some rust with nine points.
"It definitely felt good being out there with my teammates and actually competing," said Irving. "Things didn't go the way I wanted, but it happens. It felt good just to be back out there."
Samardo Samuels and Lester Hudson tallied 15 points apiece for the Cavs, who were swept by the Sixers for the first time since losing all three matchups in 2004-05 and have lost three straight, five of six and 15 of their last 18.
The Cavaliers are 10-21 at home and will close out the season with three of four games on the road.
Cleveland has lost two of three meetings with New York this season, but has still won 12 of the last 15 contests between the teams thanks largely to former Cavs star LeBron James. New York has lost nine straight and 10 of its last 11 visits to Cleveland.
New York looks to win the season series against Cleveland for the first time since 2005-06 (2-1). Anthony has averages of 18.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists in three games against the Cavs this season. Irving is posting 14.5 points and 7.0 assists in two games.