(SportsNetwork.com) - Now is the time for the New York Knicks to take advantage of a favorable schedule and entering Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon will be the NBA-worst Milwaukee Bucks.
The Knicks started an advantageous schedule with a win at Philadelphia, then disposed of Boston for their fifth consecutive victory. The Knicks still have Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Lakers and Sacramento on the upcoming docket with Indiana mixed in between.
In Wednesday's 116-92 besting of the Celtics at TD Bank Garden, Carmelo Anthony poured in 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. The NBA's second-leading scorer (28.1 ppg) is averaging 31.5 points in his last 13 games and talked about putting away weaker teams.
"Regardless of who we play we're just taking it one game at a time. These are the teams that we have to play, it's on the schedule, so we don't control that," Anthony said. "The only thing we can control is whether we win or not."
Anthony said the confidence and mindset is a lot different since losing seven straight prior to this current winning streak that has the Knicks 3 1/2 games off a playoff spot. He referred to the win in Minnesota on March 5 for sparking the run.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. scored 22 points against the Celtics, while J.R. Smith added 13 and Cole Aldrich stepped up in Tyson Chandler's place to record 12 points and 10 rebounds. Chandler is questionable Saturday for personal reasons and is posting an average of 12.3 points and 15.0 rebounds in his last 10 games with seven double-doubles in that time.
The Knicks have won two in a row at home and are 14-20 at Madison Square Garden. They will host the East-leading Indiana Pacers next Wednesday.
New York is still waiting word on whether Phil Jackson will join the front office. Published reports indicate Jackson is going to assume control of basketball operations and a major press conference is scheduled for Tuesday.
Milwaukee will wrap up a three-game road trip (0-2) and has lost seven of its last nine games. It has the worst record in the NBA at 13-52 and is currently battling Philadelphia and Orlando for a lottery pick.
The Bucks dropped a 102-97 setback in Atlanta on Thursday, as Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Knight scored 22 and 20 points, respectively. John Henson and Jeff Adrien scored 12 points apiece for Milwaukee, which couldn't stop Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague late in the game.
Korver and Teague combined to score 20 of their 37 points in the decisive fourth quarter. Korver scored 12 of his 15 points in the last six-plus minutes of the contest.
Bucks coach Larry Drew was asked about Korver's hot hand late in the fourth.
"Yeah, yeah that's always a big fear when you play against a guy who can shoot the ball the way he can. I thought we did a really good job on him in the first half," said Drew. "Second half we kind of let him get away from us. A couple of times we weren't able to get the rebound and they got the ball to him with his feet set."
Milwaukee had scored 100 or more points in its previous six games and was averaging 105.5 ppg in that time. The Bucks are winless in four straight road games and have a 5-26 mark away from Brew City.
After visiting New York, the Bucks will return home to host Charlotte on Sunday before hitting the road again for four in a row out west against Portland, Golden State, Sacramento and the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Bucks are 1-2 against New York this season and halted a seven-game slide in this series with a 101-98 victory on Feb. 3 at the Bradley Center. Knight buried a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds left for the Bucks, losers in four straight trips to historic MSG.