By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Wizards | Baltimore Arena (Baltimore, MD)
When: Thursday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: It's back to work for the Knicks, who fell to 1-2 for the preseason with a loss to Boston in Manchester, NH this past Saturday. Carmelo Anthony returns home to Baltimore tonight -- where he told Jonah Ballow he hasn't played since high school -- after resting against the Celtics. Tyson Chandler, Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, and Raymond Felton also sat last game, giving Mike Woodson and his staff an opportunity to evaluate some of the younger players. The Knicks lost, 111-81, but Ike Diogu (21 points, eight assists) and Toure' Murry (16 points) stood out in their quests for roster spots.
Washington: This is a big year for the Wizards, who have missed the playoffs each of the last five seasons. With a healthy backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal, they've played .500 basketball and many like their chances to break through this year if those two can stay on the floor. They are without starting center Emeka Okafor, who is out indefinitely with a neck injury, and third overall draft pick Otto Porter, who has been out the last month with a hip flexor. Like the Knicks, they are 1-2 this preseason.
The Numbers Game
Rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. got his first NBA start and logged the most minutes against the Celtics (36), followed by Diogu (32) and Murry (31).
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Bradley Beal
Along with Wall, Beal is the key to the Wizards' fate this year and beyond. He is already one of the better shooting guards in the league, but many expect a big leap in his second season. He can really score the ball; he's coming off a 29-point performance against Miami (in only 31 minutes), after which Dwyane Wade praised him effusively. Shumpert has been good so far this preseason, although he's coming off his worst shooting performance (2-for-9) to date. Woodson has stated that the starting shooting guard spot is up for grabs, so Shump will be looking to bounce back against Beal and the Wizards.
With the Knicks regulars likely to return to action, expect to see more familiar lineups, especially early in the game. That means Felton, Melo and Chandler back in the starting lineup. Whether they are joined by Pablo Prigioni, Andrea Bargnani, Shumpert or someone else is to be determined. Beal and Wall have each played around 30 minutes a night through three preseason games. Washington is hoping to see development from recent draft picks Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, Glen Rice Jr., and Jan Vesely.