The Washington Wizards have finally clinched a spot in the postseason, but their work isn’t over yet as they’ll have a chance to potentially move up in the standings. The Wizards will meet the New York Knicks, who are trying to sneak into the NBA Playoffs after an awful start to the season, at Madison Square Garden tonight. The game will tip off at 7:30 PM.
Key Match Up:
Despite New York’s abysmal season, Carmelo Anthony is arguably having one of the best years of his career in the final season of his contract with the Knicks as he’s averaging 28 points while grabbing over 8 rebounds per game. Although Anthony’s future with the Knicks has been uncertain, his team has been playing good basketball since bringing Phil Jackson on board and Anthony could definitely be credited for their improved play. The Knicks have won four of their last five games and Anthony has made nearly half of his shots in all five contests.
Trevor Ariza is undoubtedly Washington’s best perimeter defender, and although the Wizards have won both of their match ups against the Knicks this season, Anthony has had his way against Ariza. Anthony’s ability to score inside and out makes him virtually unguardable, but he has had a tendency to settle for tough perimeter shots in the past. I think it’s unreasonable for anyone to expect Ariza to completely shot down Anthony, but if he could force him into out of rhythm shots outside of the paint, the Wizards should live with the result. Anthony is capable of going for 30+ points on any given night and I’m sure he’ll see his fair share of double-teams against the Wizards tonight, just as he did in their past two meetings.
- Raymond Felton has dealt with back issues, but he’s expected to play against the Wizards tonight.
- The Wizards have struggled rebounding the ball since Nene went down with injury, but that shouldn’t be a problem tonight since the Knicks are 27th in rebounds per game.
- New York has the sixth lowest defensive rating in the NBA.
- The Knicks haven’t been great defensively this season, but they have succeeded on the offensive side of the floor. They’re top 10 in offensive rating.
Washington has two victories over the Knicks this season and they’ll look to sweep the season series tonight on the road. New York has struggled, but they are trying to sneak into the playoffs and I expect them to come out swinging tonight.
With that said, the Knicks’ perimeter defense hasn’t been good and they’ll be faced with a tough task in defending John Wall and Bradley Beal. Both players have had big games against the Knicks, including Beal, who made a game-winning layup at MSG earlier this season. Carmelo Anthony is a terror with the ball in his hands, but I think the Wizards’ guards will overwhelm Ray Felton and J.R. Smith, especially since they’ve been weak defensively.
Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker can’t allow second chance opportunities like they did against the Charlotte Bobcats. Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire are capable of grabbing boards in bunches and the Wizards have to secure the rebounds.
This game could have playoff implications, so it’s an important contest between both teams.