Jazz vs. Knicks preview: Reeling Utah visits MSG

USA TODAY Sports

On the brink of blowing their hold on the No. 8 seed in the West, the Jazz badly need a victory over the Knicks on Saturday night.

Hoping to stop the reeling with a possible playoff appearance hanging in the wind, the Utah Jazz visit the New York Knicks on Saturday night. Having lost three straight and six of their last seven, the Jazz's hold on a playoff spot has gone from solid to tenuous.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Jazz were had a healthy lead on the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference, closing in on the Golden State Warriors and the sixth seed in the standings. One brutal streak later, Utah is just a half-game ahead of L.A. for the eighth seed entering a game against one of the league's better teams.

Luckily for the Jazz, New York will be playing with a banged-up crew Saturday night.

At this point, both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are labeled as game-time decisions against Utah, potentially leaving the Knicks with some major holes to fill Saturday night. The team has played well in Anthony's absence so far, but losing Stoudemire as well would be a tough blow to the team.

Since losing Anthony to a knee injury earlier this week, the Knicks have split a pair of games, though they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder by just one point Thursday night.

These two teams played just one game last season, a 99-88 Knicks win at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 6. Back during the era of Linsanity, Jeremy Lin led New York to a win in that game with 28 points and eight assists while playing 45 minutes.

Scoring sans Melo

When the Knicks lose Anthony, it's pretty obvious to say that his scoring ability is the most difficult thing to replace. As solid as he is in other areas, Anthony is a superstar simply because his ability to score when necessarily is such a unique skill.

With that said, if the Knicks are without both Anthony and Stoudemire on Saturday, getting buckets will be a far more difficult proposition than usual for New York. Most likely, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton would be tasked with picking up a good portion of the scoring load, but are they capable of that?

One way of offsetting Anthony's absence is to crush teams from three-point range. That's something New York is capable of doing, as Posting and Toasting, SB Nation's Knicks blog, notes. Additionally, without Anthony in the lineup this season, both Felton and Smith have seen pretty solid boosts in their scoring numbers.

In games without Melo this season, Felton has 22.5 points per game and Smith is averaging 21.9 points per game, both well above their respective numbers with him in the lineup. It's unclear if they can keep it up, and they're certainly not as efficient, but these guys can get hot and carry an offense from time to time.

More in the NBA:

Are advanced stats good for fans?

Ziller: Are the Nuggets championship contenders?

J.R. Smith gets hot but can't save Knicks

Who's your pickup comparison?

Ex-NBA player Renaldo Balkman attacks teammate

Royce White talks with SB Nation blog The Dream Shake

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.