By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Madison Square Garden
When: Tuesday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
Knicksnow Live In-Game Chat
New York: Coming off of arguably their most impressive win of the year, the Knicks face another tough test as they attempt to push their streak to 13 straight victories. They disposed of the Thunder, one of the NBA's elite teams, in Oklahoma City, but tonight they'll likely be short-handed as they battle the world-beating Wizards. Tyson Chandler is listed as "doubtful" with a bulging disc, Kenyon Martin is "questionable" with a sore left knee, and Marcus Camby is out.
They'll rely on newly-minted Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Carmelo Anthony, to stay hot, and count on the rest of the team to continue to step up as they hone in on locking down the 2 seed in the East. They remain 2 1/2 games up on Indiana with six games to play -- including a showdown with the Pacers at the Garden on Sunday.
Washington: At 29-48, the Wizards are on their way to the lottery yet again. They have made some questinable decisions over the past few years, but even when it seems they are headed in the right direction, they can't catch a break. Since former No. 1 overall pick and franchise cornerstone John Wall made his season debut in mid-January, their list of wins includes many of the league's elite and Wall's play has supported his case for getting a max contract extension at the end of the year. But unfortunately for them, last year's No. 3 pick, Bradley Beal, is out for the season with a stress reaction in his right fibula, so they'll have to wait until next year to see what their dynamic backcourt duo can do in a full season together.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks went to Oklahoma City on Sunday and came away with a 125-120 win in what many of the players called their biggest win of the season.
Washington: The Wizards lost to the Celtics in Boston last night, 106-97.
The Numbers Game
In his last four games, Carmelo Anthony has outscored Wizards' 2011 lottery pick Jan Vesely's entire season output, 167 to 114. (hat tip: Bullets Forever)
Bonus Stat: Going back to last season, the Knicks under Mike Woodson are 68-32. Only three teams have a better record during that span.
Matchup to Watch
Raymond Felton vs. John Wall
Woodson has stated repeatedly that Felton's ability to penetrate and score is crucial to the Knicks' success. Tongiht, he'll be tasked with containing Wall's blinding speed in the open court. Washington's point guard looks to get his teammates involved, and is averaging a career-high 44.3 assist rate (the percentage of his teammates' field goals he assists on while he's on the floor). He's also upped his own field goal percentage in each of his first three seasons, shooting 45% this year with a still-improving jumper.
What to Look For
If Chandler and Martin both sit, we'll see yet another starting combination that figures to be, how you say, light on size. Does 6-foot-10 Steve Novak get the start as a stretch 5? Do they go with Chris Copeland along with Melo at the 4? Woodson has done a good job mixing and matching, but this could be his greatest test yet. Of course, it's also worth watching to see how Melo performs in the midst of his insanely hot stretch -- during the last four games he's averaging 41.8 points on 61% from the field and 56% from 3.