By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Verizon Center
When: Friday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: Coming off of a thrilling win over the Warriors and before a showdown with the Miami Heat, the Knicks head to Washington to face the upstart Wizards. After battling to overcome Stephen Curry's 54 points on Wednesday night, the players dismissed the possibility of an emotional letdown. In the game, Tyson Chandler had a career-high 28 rebounds and Carmelo Anthony poured in 35 points to go with a season-high eight assists. Kenyon Martin played almost five minutes in his Knicks debut.
Washington: It's been a tale of two seasons for the Wizards, who have been a completely different team in the 23 games since getting point guard John Wall back from injury. Without Wall or big man Nene, they started the year by losing 12 straight, but Wall's ability to get into the lane and create for others has made a world of difference. They've gone 13-10, with nine wins over playoff teams, making them a dangerous opponent in spite of their overall record (18-38).
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks outlasted Curry's 54-point outburst for a big win at home on Wednesday, 109-105.
Washington: The Wizards fell victim to Brandon Knight's 32 points on 5-of-6 3s in a loss to Detroit on Wednesday.
The Numbers Game
Despite being dead last in the league in offensive efficiency, the Wizards are sixth on defense.
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Bradley Beal
Like the rest of his teammates, Beal has benefitted greatly from Wall's return. Since his backcourt mate came back on Janurary 12th, the third overall pick from this year's draft has been outstanding -- shooting 47% from the floor, 49% from 3 and averaging 15 points per game. Most importantly, he's playing over 30 minutes and contributing to a team that's been playing good basketball of late. Depending on whether they ask him to guard Wall, Shumpert could be a key part in the Knicks' strategy to keep Beal from getting clean looks.
What to Look For
The Wizards are playing better than their overall record would suggest, but this is still a classic "trap game," preceding Sunday's showdown with the Heat. It bears watching how the Knicks come out early in this one after such a wild game on Wednesday. Curry's shooting success notwithstanding, New York has had some success recently trapping opposing guards and forcing them to give the ball up. That could be the strategy against Wall, who is lightning quick with the ball in his hands.