Wizards close homestand Tuesday against Knicks
The Wizards (23-40) host the Knicks (20-44) on Tuesday night at 7:00 P.M. in the teams’ fourth and final meeting of the season. Washington is looking to bounce back from a loss to Miami while New York enters having won three of its last five games. The Wizards are 2-1 against the Knicks this season.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Shabazz Napier, G – Bradley Beal, G – Jerome Robinson, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Knicks: G – Elfrid Payton, G – RJ Barrett, F – Maurice Harkless, F – Julius Randle, C – Taj Gibson
Wizards: Isaac Bonga (groin contusion – out), Anzejs Pasecniks (neck stiffness – available), Jerome Robinson (left Achilles soreness – available), Ish Smith (left hamstring tightness – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Knicks: Dennis Smith Jr. (concussion – available)
Napier rising to the occasion
Over the last two games, Shabazz Napier has shouldered a heavier workload with Ish Smith missing time with a hamstring injury. Napier’s 25.5 usage rate since Smith’s injury makes him one of just three players on the team above 25.0 in that time and is over 5.0 points higher than his average for the season. Napier enters Tuesday’s game against New York coming off what may have been his best game of the season. Napier did a little bit of everything, hitting season highs in minutes (40) and points (27) to go along with seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. Smith has already been ruled out against the Knicks and is slated to be re-evaluated this week.
Bradley Beal, who was the recipient of four of Napier’s seven assists against the Heat, delivered some praise and called on Napier to take his aggressiveness even higher.
“(Napier) is more than capable of doing (what he did against Miami), I’ve been telling him that,” Beal said. “We are probably going to need a little bit more out of him. I know he loves to get guys going and facilitate, but we need him to be a little bit more aggressive for us too, look for his self and look for his shots too. He had a great night.”
Bertans on a roll in March
Davis Bertans will take on the Knicks having hit at least three 3-pointers in seven of his last eight games, including Sunday’s outing against the Heat. Against Miami, he converted on eight 3-pointers, his second game this month with eight threes and third such game of the season. No player in franchise history has three such games over the course of his entire career. Bertans’s season is already one of the best in Wizards’ history: his 197 3-pointers made are the seventh-most in a single season in team history, just 26 behind Bradley Beal’s 223 3-pointers made in 2016-17.
Since March 1, Bertans is shooting 50.0% from 3-point range on 11.6 attempts per game, but will have to buck a trend on Tuesday to continue that hot streak. Bertans has played in just one of Washington’s three games against New York this season and was 2-6 (.333) from deep in that game. The Knicks are one of just three teams this season that have faced Bertans and not been subject to a three 3-pointer performance from the Latvian Laser. The Wizards’ offense, shorthanded on the perimeter with Ish Smith and Jerome Robinson on the mend, may need that breakout Bertans performance Tuesday against New York.
Randle, Knicks playing well in their last five
The Knicks enter Tuesday’s matchup having won three of their last five games, including a 12-point win over the Pistons on Sunday. New York’s defense led the charge against Detroit, holding the Pistons to just 84 points, their fourth game this season holding their opponent below 90 points. Julius Randle, who has set the tone for the Knicks over the last five games, scored a game-high 22 points on 7-14 (.500) shooting to go along with 12 rebounds. Over the last five games, Randle leads the team in minutes (31.0), points (20.8) and rebounds (11.4) per game, highlighted by a 32-point, 11-rebounds game against Utah on Wednesday. In three games this season, Randle has had his way with the Wizards, notching to 30-point games and two double-doubles. In New York’s December 28 win over Washington, Randle totaled 30 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.