Knicks vs. Thunder: New York, OKC both seeking playoff positioning

USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks, winners of 11 straight, are trying to hold onto the No. 2 seed in the East while the Thunder have a shot at catching the Spurs for the No. 1 seed in the West.

The Oklahoma City Thunder (56-20) host the New York Knicks at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC hoping to move into a tie with the San Antonio Spurs (57-20) for first place in the Western Conference standings.

Although the Knicks (49-26) have no shot at catching the Miami Heat (60-16), they are trying to put more distance between themselves and the Indiana Pacers, who trail the Knicks by two games for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. The Knicks are surging late in the season, winning 11-straight games heading into Sunday, led recently by one of the hottest players in the league over the last week.

The Knicks will rely on Carmelo Anthony, who is having one of the best individual stretches of any player this season. Anthony is averaging 28.3 points per game on the season, just a tenth of a point behind Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who leads the league at 28.4 points per game.

After a poor March in which he shot just 40 percent, Anthony has exploded in three games in April so far, averaging 43.7 points per game on 60 percent shooting while grabbing seven rebounds per game. This will be Anthony's first game against the Thunder this season. He missed the only meeting between the teams, a 95-94 Thunder win in March, due to injury.

Durant scored 34 points in that win for Oklahoma City and is hoping to hold off Anthony to win his fourth-straight scoring title, the most since Michael Jordan won seven straight from 1987-1993.

The Thunder will try to do a better job containing J.R. Smith in this match-up. With Anthony out, Smith stepped in and scored 36 points. The Thunder did a good job defensively on New York's other scorers, however, holding Amar'e Stoudemire, Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert to just 12-of-38 combined shooting.

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