It's funny to think that the biggest game this week might not be Carmelo Anthony's return to Denver.

Wednesday's game against New York, of course, will be a raucous event, but Friday, the Nuggets host Memphis in a game that could end up determining home-court advantage in the playoffs.

Throw in Monday's matchup at Phoenix, where Denver dropped a tough one this season, and Melo Week could prove to be pivotal.

"This week is definitely huge," center Kosta Koufos said. "We have to focus on Phoenix."

Yes, but it's hard not to look ahead, to both Wednesday's return of five former Nugget Knicks — Melo, J.R. Smith, Kenyon Martin, Raymond Felton and Marcus Camby — and Friday's home game against the Grizzlies.

The Nuggets, Grizzlies and Clippers are in a fight for playoff seeds 3-5, and while Denver already has the tiebreaker from Los Angeles, it will need to win Friday to clinch it with Memphis too.

"We have playoff preparation (on the road at Phoenix), and then the Knicks, just because of the scenario that all our guys want to play well in that game," Nuggets coach George Karl said of the week after Sunday's practice. "And of course, the Memphis game is going to be huge. If we could get three wins, it would be really important for us."

Anthony and the Knicks, in a fight for the second spot in the Eastern Conference, play Monday at Golden State, though Anthony (knee) is questionable. Those around the Nuggets believe he will play Wednesday.


Meanwhile, Denver's newest marquee player, Ty Lawson, has been putting up all-star numbers of late. Lawson tied a season high with 32 points in Saturday's win, becoming the first NBA player since Dirk Nowitzki in 2010-11 to score 30-plus points while shooting 70 percent from the field and making every 3-point attempt (4-for-4). Lawson has scored 20 or more points in 11 of his past 13 games.

Denver thought Lawson would take a step this season, but was Karl expecting this big of a Lawson leap?

Knicks F Carmelo Anthony 2011
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (Associated Press file)

"Probably not," he said, "but the whole factor with Ty is — consistent aggressiveness. I think he has the skills to be an all-star player."

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294, or