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Knicks At Hawks: Josh Smith Hopes To Play, Chauncey Billups Unlikely As Best Team Ever* Comes To Town

Did you hear Carmelo Anthony's coming to town? Yes, Carmelo Anthony. That Carmelo Anthony, the anchor of the newest and best super team. You know, those juggernauts that the media fawn over? That get laudatory comments from guys like Skip Bayless. The New York Knicks have Melo. They're just simply unstoppable. (Unless they play a really, really, really bad team like the Cleveland Cavaliers then they really, really stink -- but we'll ignore that for now).

The Knicks a/k/a 2011's version of the 2010's Best Team Ever*, the Miami Heat, head to Philips Arena for a -- you guessed it -- nationally televised matchup against that team from Atlanta that's eons ahead of them talent wise and in the standings -- but you'd never know it. Why you ask? That silly Atlanta Hawks didn't trade away just about all of their depth and future to send tingles down the legs of many an ESPN reporter by acquiring Carmelo, Isiah Thomas and a Melo-Lala Vazquez VH1 reality show to become the new Best Team Ever*.

Atlanta hopes -- no prays -- that they have the talent to beat a New York team that will probably be without point guard Chauncey Billups and center Ronny Turiaf. A team that's about as deep as a conversation between Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton on the crisis in Libya. The Best Team Ever* that is 3-3 since acquiring Melo, with two losses to the lowly Cavs.

But hey, did you know they beat the former Best Team Ever* when they beat the Heat? Yes. They overachieved and beat LeBron James and Dwyane Wade and the 82-0, 72-10, 63-19 Heat as they rejoiced all over ESPN's studios in Bristol.

The Hawks hope that they have the firepower to take on the ESPN hype machine, a bunch of my fellow former New Yorkers who suddenly have been reborn into the cult that is the Knicks and Carmelo and Amare Stoudemire when the curtain comes down at 6:30 p.m. on the World Wide Leader In Sports that's owned by Mickey Mouse. (Incessant suck up alert on ESPN for the team that hasn't won a championship since 1973! Better get that mute button handy, Hawks fans).

Or of course, if you want to listen to the game with announcers that are not all over everything New York like a dog to a fire hydrant, you can watch it on SportSouth. They may actually admit that the emperor in New York has no clothes. And no mute button is required.

The good news is that Atlanta should have Josh Smith back. The Atlanta forward, who sprained the MCL in his right knee in a collision with J.R. Smith of the Denver Nuggets on Monday, participated in shootaround with a brace on the knee on Sunday. He hopes to be ready for the opening tip.

Atlanta was 1-1 without their defensive specialist and shot blocking star, beating the Chicago Bulls 83-80 thanks to a sensational night from Al Horford before falling 111-104 to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook's Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.

New York is coming off of an embarrassing 119-115 loss to the Cavs. Amare had 41 in that one, but it wasn't enough for the Knickerbockers, who played without Billups and Turiaf.

The Hawks need to slow down the new Best Team Ever* if they have a chance to do what no one in the mainstream media thinks they can do: beat the Knicks. Smith is key to that. If he can play and establish a presence in the middle, Atlanta should win this game.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.