NEW YORK -- Power forward David Lee said he knows that he will be emotional, intense and a little nervous when the Warriors invade Madison Square Garden today to face the New York Knicks.
The Garden was home for Lee's first five seasons in the NBA, until the Knicks traded him to the Warriors in July.
"I'm most excited about going there with a 5-2 record," Lee said. "We're not 1-5 and struggling to get a win. It's good that we started out the season strong. It's good to be carrying that into the old place. I have a lot of pride going in there with this team."
It was with the Knicks that Lee grew from the last guy on the bench into a well-regarded NBA player.
So Lee said he harbors no ill will because the Knicks dealt him to the Warriors. New York was trying to clear salary cap space for Amar'e Stoudemire, who eventually signed with the Knicks, and LeBron James, who chose the Miami Heat instead. Lee said he has a lot of fond memories.
"With that being said, it's going to mean a lot for me to go in there and get a win," Lee said.
The door is open for Lee to have a big game since it's likely the Warriors will be without guard Monta Ellis, who suffered a lower back strain two days ago against Toronto. That's Ellis' average of 27.9 points missing from the offense.
But Lee said he is not going to try to set career-highs against his former team. General manager Larry Riley is convinced Lee has the right mind-set heading into
"There's a temptation for a guy to try to do too much in a game like this," Riley said. "But I think he's ahead of the curve. He knows to just go play his game."
A career performance by Lee would be a switch from how things have gone in his first seven games with the Warriors. Thus far, his offensive numbers are down from his last couple seasons with the Knicks.
Lee is averaging 12.3 points, down from 20.2 last season and 16.0 the year before. He is shooting 42.5 percent. His season-worst shooting percentage with the Knicks was 54.5 percent last season.
Riley, however, said Lee's value to the team isn't defined by offense. His 11.4 rebounds per game have dramatically affected the Warriors' improved defense. And his passing and leadership have been key in the Warriors' new motion offense.
Lee said his offense turned the corner in Monday's 109-102 win at Toronto. He got a little rhythm going, including knocking down a couple midrange jumpers en route to 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Coach Keith Smart called it a breakout game.
Said Lee: "Whatever happens with scoring is going to be determined by how the other defense plays against us. Some nights I've gotten more shots than others. But it felt good to get a few jumpers to fall (at Toronto), and I'm going to carry that over to the next game."
Warriors at New York, 4:30 p.m., CSNBA
Monta Ellis has lower back strain, is day-to-day. Page 4