Wizards vs Knicks NBA Handicapping
The Wiz are flying high after clinching a postseason berth with a win over the Boston Celtics this week. The Knickerbockers are currently clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, their record (33-43) currently one victory better than the Atlanta Hawks.
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Date/Time: Friday, April 4 2014, 7:30 pm EST
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York NY
New York -3.5 (1.87), Washington +3.5 (1.95)
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The fact that New York – at 10 games under .500 – is in a position to play postseason basketball really says everything about the current state of the East. DC, meanwhile, has put together a respectable little campaign, its record being 39-36 and being led by fourth-year PG John Wall.
Wall has been the Wizards’s leading scorer and emotional leader on the court. He will play in the postseason for the first time in his career, and is surely relishing the opportunity. The same can’t be said for New York’s Carmelo Anthony, however, if there are any further slip-ups in the Big Apple.
Aside from Tyson Chandler’s defense and rebounding, Anthony really carries the load for this Knicks team. He’s averaged 28 points per game and is vital to any chance the franchise has of playing beyond the regular season.
Legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson’s new role as team president for the Knicks makes for good publicity, but it doesn’t overshadow the fact that New York needs to win now. Its recent 110-81 thumping of crosstown Brooklyn is exactly what New York needs to sustain. Its desperation should bode well in MSG on Friday night.
The Wiz are clinched up and probably already thinking about potential playoff seedings and match-ups, despite how much they might say to the contrary. In addition to Wall’s All-Star effort this season (19.8 PPG, 8.7 APG, 4.1 RPG), Marcin Gortat controls the low post – offensively and defensively – with aplomb.
Gortat and Chandler is a really nice match-up of bigs. Both players are beasts on the defensive end. In terms of the gaudy stats that put bums in seats, Wall doesn’t score quite as prolifically as Anthony, but there is still ample star power in this late-season tilt.
There should be enough compelling play going on, especially with New York’s back against the wall, to keep the fans excited.
It’s also good news for the Knicks that starting PG Ray Felton expects to play; he’s been suffering recently with a back ailment. Even with ‘Melo doing his thing, players like the over-the-hill Amar’e Stoudemire and the underachieving Iman Shumpert will probably need to bring an inspired effort to put New York over Washington and shore up its grasp on the eighth seed in the East.
Anthony is scoring and rebounding at a more frantic rate than ever in his career, which is saying a lot because ‘Melo has always been a gifted scorer. An historical knock on Anthony has been that he cares about scoring and that’s it; a very “me-first” player in a “me-first” league.
Yet even his critics have to admit that ‘Melo has really put the team on his back in 2013-14, as he doesn’t have a lot of effective help on the roster. Needless to say, the “Zen Master” Jackson has plenty of work to do in order to re-tool this franchise to make them perennial contenders.
A victory over the Wizards on Friday night is the first step, if the Knicks want a crack at the 2013-14 NBA Playoffs.
Knicks 105, Wizards 100