By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Verizon Center
When: Wednesday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks head to D.C. riding a five-game winning streak and playing their best ball since the beginning of the season. They are breaking records -- Carmelo Anthony scoring 20+ points, Tyson Chandler pulling down 20+ rebounds -- and finding a groove on offense that gives inferior clubs little chance to keep up. Raymond Felton is back and his dribble penetration is restoring the deadly spread pick-and-roll attack that leads to high-percentage looks in the paint and from 3.
Washington: Thanks to a mix of ill-advised trades, injuries, bloated contracts and draft choices that have yet to pan out as hoped, the Wizards are mired in their fifth straight dismal season, at 12-35. But this year, there are some positives for a change. They rank 6th in the league in defensive efficiency, for instance, and when healthy, veterans Emeka Okafor and Nene make up a formidable front line. And best of all, the team has played .500 ball in the 14 games since the return of former top overall pick, John Wall.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks handled the Pistons at the Garden on Monday, 99-85, in a game that was never really that close.
Washington: Playing without 3rd overall pick Bradley Beal (sore right wrist), the Wizards took down the Clippers (who were without Chris Paul or Blake Griffin), 98-90, on Monday.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks have won five straight games by an average of 16.2 points per game.
Matchup to Watch
John Wall vs. Iman Shumpert
Without knowing if Beal will play, it will be interesting to see how Mike Woodson defends Wall. He has shown a willingness to put his best defender, Shumpert, on the opposing point guard, and that could prove effective against the 6'4" Wall. With all the switching the Knicks do along the perimeter, we could see these two matched up no matter what the assignments are. Wall has yet to develop a consistent jumper, but he is extremely fast with the ball and puts pressure on defenses with penetration and a knack for setting up his teammates. Shumpert, who is still finding his comfort zone on offense, has drawn praise from his teammates for putting mistakes behind him and staying aggressive.
What to Look For
Certainly one thing to keep and eye on will be Chandler's pursuit of a 4th straight 20+ rebound game. Woodson joked after the Pistons game that his dominance on the boards has made him come to expect it every game. Jason Kidd added that he's looking for something new from Chandler, like a 20/20 performance. The Knicks bucked a recent trend of slow starts when they jumped out early on the Pistons, so hopefully that continues. The Wizards are 8th-worst in the league at defending the 3-point line, so that should play into the Knicks' strength if they can be patient and move the ball.