February 6, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots the ball as Washington Wizards small forward Martell Webster (9) defends in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 106-96. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Knicks Preview; Key Match Up, Notes/Links and Prediction


Washington was on the verge of a four game win streak, but came up short with a 96-95 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Tonight, they’ll face the surging New York Knicks, who are looking to start a win streak of their own.

Key Match Up

If you’ve watched a Wizards game after the All-Star break, you’ve probably taken notice of how much John Wall has been struggling. Wall played fairly well after he returned from his knee injury, but has struggled significantly in the past few weeks. Wall is averaging just over 10 points in the past five games, while shooting a horrific 29 percent from the field. He has played just over 20 minutes in the past two games, because he seems incapable of not turning the ball over. Wall even went as far as to call some of his turnovers “great passes”, essentially blaming his teammates for not being able to catch the ball. Fans and media members alike, are starting to become more and more judgmental of John Wall’s decision making, on and off the court. The last time these two Eastern Conference teams met, Wall scored 21 points to go along side 9 assists. Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen Wall become very passive and unassertive. Washington needs Wall to play aggressively, all while playing under control. I understand that Wall is not a shoot first point guard, but he has to understand his role in certain situations. Transition is Wall’s bread and butter, but Wall seems very reluctant to even shoot in those situations. That needs to change, and it needs to change fast.

Like John Wall, Raymond Felton has received plenty of criticism throughout his seven year career. Washington has had outstanding trouble containing the opposing point guards as of late. Jose Calderon had 17 assists on Wednesday night, but above all, he picked apart a Wizards defense which has been considered top notch the entire season. New York is the 10th best offensive team in the league and has plenty of offensive weapons surrounding Felton. If Washington can’t contain Felton’s penetration, they’ll be in for a long night. With that said, Felton definitely isn’t the best defensive guard in the league. John Wall has to start outplaying his opponents, because frankly, he has the tools to do so.

Other Notes/Links

  • Apparently, some of John Wall’s old teammates “didn’t want to see him succeed.” Call me crazy, but I think I know who those guys are. *coughAdrayBlatchecough*
  • Nithin and James wrote a collaboration piece on various Wizards topics. I’m hoping this could spark some conversation, since they spoke about a few very debatable topics regarding the Wizards.
  • Nene, who sat out of Wednesday night’s game due to a sore shoulder, is questionable for tonight. He participated in shoot around, but I still don’t expect him to give it a go tonight.
  • My friend and yours, Andrew Bynum, suffered yet another setback. I realize that this doesn’t pertain to anything Wizards related, but it’s worth noting. Bynum who was acquired in a three team blockbuster trade involving the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, may never put on a Sixers uniform.
  • Randy Wittman is sick of those criticizing John Wall.
  • Despite struggling a bit as of late, the New York Knicks are still sixth in three point percentage.

Prediction

It’s not the end of the world. Though some of us make is seem like it is, Washington has still won three of their last four games. Detroit has had Washington’s number the whole season and has ruined their momentum several times this year. The only thing I’m worried about his how the Wizards will bounce back from that one point loss, especially against a elite level team like the Knicks.

At this point in the season, the Wizards obviously have nothing to lose. They’ve already beaten the Knicks this season and have shown they’re capable of competing with virtually any team in the NBA. John Wall had one of his best games of the season as mentioned, scoring 21 points to go along side 9 assists. We’ve seen Wall struggle a bit lately, but I feel like this happens almost every season with Wall. It’s obvious that Wall has a very fragile confidence, which effects his game to a very large extent. Wall needs to learn how to shake off those cobwebs and play the game he’s been playing his entire life. He can’t continue to feel sorry for himself, like Randy Wittman stated in a post game press conference.

New York is a top tier team in the NBA, so Washington certainly shouldn’t hang their heads should they lose tonight. This game is about more than just a win or loss, it’s about restoring confidence in their franchise player–John Wall.

With all that said, I can’t see Washington picking up another victory against a offensive powered Knicks team.

Let’s just hope Wall has a bounce back game.

Tags: John Wall Nba New York Knicks Previews Raymond Felton Washington Wizards