When the Warriors walk into Madison Square Garden on Sunday morning, they’ll do so with a distinctly unfamiliar feeling. They’re lugging a losing streak.
It’s only two games, but it’s their first skid in nearly two years.
As they adjust to the loss of Kevin Durant, the Warriors (50-11) hope recovery comes in the form of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson shaking their simultaneous three-game slump. The All-Star sharpshooters are 11-of-64 (20.3 percent) from deep during that stretch.
Standing in the way will be the New York Knicks (25-37), who have spent this season mired in equal parts turmoil and ineptitude, from trade talk involving Carmelo Anthony to a beef between former Knick Charles Oakley and current owner James Dolan to their 9-24 record in games dating back to Christmas.
The Warriors, however, would be the first to acknowledge they currently have own issues.
Warriors by 9.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Warriors Wings vs. Carmelo Anthony: Just as Chicago wing Jimmy Butler was a load last Thursday, Anthony poses a tremendous challenge for a Warriors team without Durant. Defending Anthony also will be a group effort, with Matt Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson all taking turns. Though conditions are ripe for Anthony to have a big game, there is the possibility his defense will allow as much as he gets.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L MCL sprain, tibial bone bruise) is listed as out. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
Knicks: C Willy Hernangomez (L ankle sprain) and Maurice Ndour (R ankle sprain) are listed as questionable. C Joakim Noah (L knee surgery) is listed as out.
Warriors: 7-3. Knicks: 3-7.
The Warriors have won the last five meetings, including the first this season, 103-90 on Dec. 15 at Oracle Arena, 11 of the last 14 and 22 of the last 28. They have won 10 of the last 14 in New York.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE FOURS/FIVES: Neither Draymond Green nor Kristaps Porzingis is a traditional power forward. They’ll see plenty of each other partly because both will spend considerable time at center. Green has had great success defending KP, and he’ll lean on that history while making adjustments as the game unfolds.
THE POINT MEN: Two point guards have won MVP trophies over the past 10 seasons: Derrick Rose of the Knicks once (2011), and Curry twice (2015, 2016). Each will try to dictate tempo, with Rose using force and Curry using finesse. Rose needs to be superb, and even that may not be enough if Curry shakes his slump.
THE TEMPO GAME: That the Knicks are 13th in pace but first in field-goal attempts is indicative of climbing the offensive glass (fifth in offensive-rebound percentage) and relying on volume shooting. The Warriors will try to speed them up in hopes of forcing quick shots and turnovers.