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After spending most of the week in London, the Wizards and Knicks will face off on Thursday. In what will be a sellout at The O2 Arena, it should be an amazing atmosphere overseas. The Wizards have won 17 of their last 19 matchups against the Knicks. Washington has won five of its last eight games, while the Knicks have lost four in a row.
The O2 Arena | 3:00 P.M. | NBC Sports Washington/NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Tomas Satoransky, G – Bradley Beal, F – Trevor Ariza, F – Jeff Green, C – Thomas Bryant
Knicks: G – Emmanuel Mudiay, G – Damyean Dotson, F – Noah Vonleh, F – Kevin Knox, C – Lance Thomas
Wizards: Dwight Howard (aggravated gluteal soreness – out), John Wall (left heel soreness – out), Markieff Morris (transient cervical neuropraxia – out)
Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (sore left hamstring – questionable), Mitchell Robinson (sore groin – questionable), Enes Kanter (not with team – out), Kristaps Porzingis (left knee – out)
The Wizards have had a jam-packed week in London, especially considering the team arrived a day later than expected. Due to snow and other uncontrollable factors, Washington arrived on Tuesday morning instead of Monday morning. Still, the team has been able to do some sightseeing and relaxing in addition to practice, event appearances, and other NBA events. The highlight of the week was certainly dining at Kensington Palace on Tuesday night.
This will be Washington’s 12th international game in franchise history, and the first in London as well as its first regular season international game. The last was a preseason game in Rio de Janeiro against the Bulls.
Beal, en fuego
Bradley Beal is coming off his second 40-point triple-double in the past month, and he may just be getting started. In his last nine games, Beal is averaging 30.2 points, 6.4 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per game on 47.2% from the field overall and 41.3% from 3-point. His scoring ranks fifth in the NBA and second in the East during that 5-4 stretch in which the Wizards have beaten the Thunder, Sixers, and Bucks. The rest of January will be a test, but Beal has already made a case to win Eastern Conference Player of the Month. In his last five games against the Knicks, Beal is averaging 25.2 points per game, including some phenomenal performances head-to-head with Tim Hardaway Jr. Look for Beal to have another big game in London and continue to show the world that he deserves to make his second straight All-Star appearance.
Know the Knicks
The Knicks have simply struggled all season, but more so as of late. With only two wins in their last 19 games, the Knicks have fallen to 10-33 on the season. Already without Kristaps Porzingis on the season, they will be without Enes Kanter for the third straight game. The Knicks rank 25th in offensive efficiency and 29th in defensive efficiency. New York has especially struggled shooting the ball, ranking last in the NBA in true shooting percentage. One area the Knicks thrive in is ball control, sixth best in the league in turnover percentage. That will be even more important against a Washington team that thrives off turnovers, ranking third in the NBA in opponent turnover percentage. Despite their struggles, the Knicks are a young team on a big stage with very little to lose; the Wizards cannot take them lightly and them start feeling confident.