The Warriors hit the Big Apple coming off their first road win in Toronto. But, tonight presents another challenge of whether they can win within continental United States. Slightly facetious, perhaps the Warriors win in Canada was much like the San Francisco 49ers' second victory recently over the Denver Broncos playing in the neutral territory of England.
But as much as the Warriors try to down play the significance of tonight's game, a win over the New York Knicks could be a huge emotional hump for the Warriors, more specifically, David Lee, to get over. With rumors swirling that Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni felt that his personnel, such as Lee, was not "athletic" to his liking, Lee is trying to downplay the significance of this game, but you can tell that he wants this win badly:
"There's no two ways about it: I'm looking forward to playing in New York and getting a victory," Lee said. "It's going to mean a lot to me to go in there and get a win. I want my team to come out ahead over their team. That means a lot to me.
"Even when they come to play in Golden State, I'm going for the W. I don't care what kind of game I have, as long as I help our team win."
And while many Warrior fans were split on whether paying David Lee $80 million over six years was a mistake, judging by the $20 million difference between him and his current Knicks replacement Amar'e Stoudemire and the disparity in win-loss records, it seems for now that the Warriors and fans are getting their money's worth.
The Warriors catch the New York Knicks on the second game of a back-to-back, which you can bet they still have the memory of the 27 point blowout to the Milwaukee Bucks fresh in their brains. You wonder if Anthony Randolph and Ronny Turiaf, former Warriors involved in the Lee sign and trade, have similar feelings as Lee on whether they want to punish their former team. Randolph has hardly lived up to the excitement that Knicks fans and media have had over his skill-set and even general manager Donnie Walsh has tempered his attitude recently by suggesting that in spite of Randolph's potential, they're just waiting right now.
Landry Fields, former Stanford Cardinal's standout, has been starting at shooting guard, getting consistent minutes and contributing productively to Mike D'Antoni's liking:
"He's not making mistakes, he's an efficient shooter and player, doesn't turn the ball over," D'Antoni said. "When you have guys who are going to score, Amare [Stoudemire] and those guys, you need someone who's efficient.
"If [Fields] does something, it's positive. There's not a lot detracting from what he does. He's a heady basketball player that'd be good anywhere if you're looking for chemistry things, what glues which five guys together."
Warriors have been known in the past to allow shooters to get hot (see aging and slumping Rip Hamilton from Sunday's game) and Fields is definitely a player the Warriors should watch out for.
On the injury front, Monta Ellis had an awkward fall against the Toronto Raptors, scaring the franchise and fans as he lay motionless for minutes, struggling to walk under his own strength. But X-rays showed no structural damage and Ellis is listed as day-to-day and may return tonight if he's feeling up for it:
"We got good news," general manager Larry Riley said. "(Tests) didn't show anything to be concerned about. So now it's how well can he manage the stiffness and soreness that is going to accompany something like this. "... His spirits were good. He's enthusiastic."
Perhaps the Warriors injury curse is slowly being lifted, but it's too bad that Ellis may be out just as Curry's ankle is coming to full strength.