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6) Knicks vs. Wizards (December 25, 2014)
Fueled by a young and talented crew, the 2013-14 Wizards escaped their dismal past to achieve success not seen in the nation’s capital over the previous nine years. For the first time since the 2005 season, Washington won a playoff series as part of a 44-win campaign.
The Wizards successfully retained big man Marcin Gortat by re-signing him this summer and the team quickly recovered from the loss of Trevor Ariza with the acquisition of veteran forward Paul Pierce in a surprising move. With John Wall fresh off his best season as a pro and the emergence of Bradley Beal at the shooting guard spot, Washington is primed to contend for a conference title. The Wizards hope Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. take the next step and they bolstered the bench by adding Kris Humphries and DeJuan Blair.
Last year, Washington had New York’s number, defeating the Knicks in all three of the head-to-head matchups. The new-look squad in New York will attempt to slow down Wall after he averaged 23.3 points and eight assists per game against the Knicks a season ago. The Wizards were a strong defensive unit with a big frontline and speedy defenders on the perimeter.
Both teams will have the opportunity to adjust following a November 4th contest at the Garden in the first meeting of the season. Despite Washington’s success last year against New York, capturing a win on Christmas Day at MSG is a tall task. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 PM.
Next up: Knicks meet familiar foes in Dallas showdown.