By: Jeremy Hyman
The Wizards schedule gets no easier tonight as they head to New York to take on the streaking Knicks at Madison Square Garden (7:30 pm | TV: CSN ). The Wizards are 1-2 this season against the Knicks this season.
The Wizards beat the 3rd seeded Pacers on Saturday night, then fell to the 7th seeded Celtics on Sunday night in Boston, and tonight will get the 2nd seeded Knicks on their home court before taking on the top seeded Heat tomorrow night back in Washington. A tough stretch to say the least.
The Knicks enter tonight's game on a 12 game winning streak, including an impressive 125-120 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony had 36 points and 12 boards to lead the Knicks, which is actually his lowest scoring output in his last four games. He scored 40+ in his previous three games, including a 50 spot in Miami on April 2nd. He is on some kind of hot streak right now as he goes for the NBA scoring title and he will be the first, second, and third options for the Knicks tonight. Besides Anthony, Tyson Chandler will be the force in the middle the Wizards will need to key on as his defensive presence is as good as any center in the league. They have also been getting a lot of contributions from their bench, with a potential 6th man of the year candidate J.R. Smith the leader of that bunch. His three-point shooting can sometimes swing a game in the Knicks favor, and the Wizards second unit will need to closely mark Smith around the perimeter.
The Knicks present a slew of talent and can throw a lot of different lineups on the floor to cause matchup problems. They like to play a three guard lineup, with Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Iman Shumpert alongside Carmelo Anthony at the PF spot and Tyson Chandler at C. The Wizards will likely counter with their smaller lineup, where Trevor Ariza sees a lot of time at the PF spot.
The Wizards beat these Knicks once already this season when they won 106-96 at Verizon Center back on February 6th, so the possibility of an upset is there. However, the Wiz have struggled away from home, posting a 7-31 road record and are on a current five game road losing streak.
The Wizards will be looking for their first win at MSG since December 6th, 2006.
The action kicks off at 7:30 pm.
Since March 1st, John Wall is averaging 22.7 points, 7.9 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game (22 games). During this stretch, Wall has 10 games of 20+ points, three games of 35+ points and seven double-doubles. Wall joins Kobe Bryant and LeBron James as the only three players who are averaging at least 22.0 points, 7.0 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game since March 1st. Tonight, he may need another extraordinary effort to take down the Knicks in their place.
Opposite Wall, will be a handful of guards, but Raymond Felton will spend a good portion of the game handling the ball. Felton has been in double figures in six of the Knicks last seven games and can play a big role in the Knicks offense.
In the below clip, John Wall hits the tough shot.