The Washington Wizards have the opportunity to head into the all-star break with a win streak in a game tonight against the 17-37 New York Knicks.
The Washington Wizards are coming off a nail biter Tuesday night against the Chicago Bulls that saw them win it 126-114. They find themselves just 3 games behind the 8th seeded Orlando Magic in the NBA’s eastern conference and get a juicy matchup tonight against the lowly New York Knicks.
The Knicks have actually been surprisingly better after the ouster of head coach David Fizdale. Interim coach Mike Miller has them playing decently, posting a record of 13-19 with him at the helm while Fizdale could only manage a 4-18 record with virtually the same (if not better) roster.
Is it time we put the “Fizdale is a great coach” stuff to rest yet? I digress.
The season series stands at 1-1 with this being the third matchup of four this season. The Knicks were a part of the three-team trade with the Washington Wizards, where they gave up their veteran leader Marcus Morris and received Maurice Harkless plus a first and second round pick.
Harkless hasn’t played since February 5th, but he is probable in tonight’s game and may make his Knicks debut against our Wizards. Here’s 3 quick keys to tonight’s game that can snag us a win.
1. Patrol the paint
I’m looking for Ian Mahinmi to mirror his second half from last night’s game. He really brought the energy at protecting the rim, and punishing the rim on the other side.
While he didn’t end up with a block, he was constantly there to contest and keep the Bulls from snagging rebounds, and we’ll need even more of that tonight against the likes of Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson.
Over their last three games, the Knicks are 3rd overall in the league in points in the paint, with 58 per contest. On the season they sit at a lowly 22nd in the league, so stopping them is obviously doable.
2. Bring the energy
The Washington Wizards are 2-2 thus far this season in the second game of a back-to-back set, but that doesn’t mean that trend will hold. It’s super tough on even an elite athlete’s body to play two games of basketball at the highest level in just 48 hours.
It’s why they’ve tried to reduce the number of back-to-backs for every team.
If last night was any indication, the Wizards could come out flat, which may not ultimately kill them but will definitely force them to play key guys too many minutes. Luckily, coach Scott Brooks kept the minutes of our key guys down last game, with Bradley Beal and Rui Hachimura being the only ones to log more than 30 minutes in the mostly lopsided victory.
3. We need more from Troy Brown Jr.
Okay, this one is a bit more long-term, but if the Washington Wizards hope to sneak into the playoffs this season, we need Troy Brown Jr. to be playing at a higher level than he has been. In last night’s win, he went 0-for-5 from the field, but he did bring the defense.
The Knicks’ wing rotation is nothing to write home about, so TBJ seems in line for a big game, which we know he’s capable of from previous games. Let’s hope he shows up tonight.
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