Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Wizards
The Knicks and Wizards will be facing off for the second time this season but will not have the same feel as the first time around. Both teams look a lot different on the court today than they did on November 30th when they faced off the first time and is not as lopsided of an affair as people think; the Wizards are not as bad a team as their record implies with their superstar John Wall back in the lineup.
-Stop John Wall
Recently, the Knicks have been a revolving door at the defensive end against the point guard position, specifically since Raymond Felton’s return to the lineup. Players such as Jrue Holiday, who scored a career high 35, and Jeff Teague torched the Knicks; the worst part about that is neither one of those players are as talented as John Wall, who the Knicks will face off against tonight.
Since coming back from his left patella injury, Wall has averaged 14.1 points and 6.8 assists in only 27 minutes per game through 14 games played this season. Wall has recently moved into the starting lineup and the Knicks will have their hands full in stopping the lightning quick Wall.
The key to slowing Wall down will be the Knicks transition defense, as there might not be another player in the NBA as quick up and down the court as he is. The Knicks would be smart to have their guards drop back more on offensive possessions instead of crashing the boards; a potential offensive rebound is not as important as getting back and stopping the best player on the opposing team.
This will be a game that Iman Shumpert’s defensive prowess will be needed, as Felton and Jason Kidd have little to no chance of staying in front of Wall at any point on the court.
-Don’t Let the Record Fool You
The Knicks cannot come into the game thinking they have a victory in the bag before the game is even played as the Wizards are not as poor as their record perceives them to be. Since Wall has returned, the Wizards are a respectable 7-7. There are also some other players that can do damage in Nene, Emeka Okafor and rookie Bradley Beal.
The big reason not to sleep on the Wizards is the fact they have a penchant for beating good teams. Six of their 12 wins this season have come against teams with records above .500. When bad teams plays against good ones they will bring their A game hoping to get onto some highlight shows by knocking off a big dog.
-Can Chandler Keep the Streak?
On the tail end of the home stand Tyson Chandler etched his name into the Knicks record books tying the franchise record of consecutive 20 rebound games at three, last accomplished by the great Willis Reed. A thing to keep an eye on will be how Chandler’s tip-out rebounds are counted for in Washington; at home the score keepers are more inclined to beef up a home players stats but on the road they are not always as accommodating.
-Keep up the hot shooting
The Knicks have been most successful this season when they are shooting the three point ball well and that is exactly what they have done during their five-game winning streak and home stand sweep. Over that time period, the Knicks have shot a torrid 76 for 173 from down town, good for 43.9 percent. That is quite a hot streak for the Knicks, who shoot three pointers at a 38.5 percent clip on the season.