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Preseason Game Preview: Knicks vs. Wizards- 10/15/2021

Finally . . . maybe . . . Mitch?

Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Here we go again. Last Saturday, the Knicks whomped the Wizards, 117-99. Washington did better in Tuesday’s game against the Raptors, only losing 113-108. Odds are, they will be more prepared for their second preseason meeting with New York at 7:30 PM.

An important player will rejoin the Wizards in their quest for vengeance...and the Knicks might have Mitch.

That’s right! Word is that 7-foot center Mitchell Robinson might take the floor at Madison Square Garden on Friday. “Hopefully, the last game he’ll get in,” said Coach Thibodeau.

Robinson had foot surgery in March and might need a larger jersey after gaining 40 pounds during his recovery. The 2018 draft pick was sorely missed in last season’s disappointing playoff series against Clint Capela and the Atlanta Hawks. The promise of Big Mitch looms large over a season in which the Knicks hope to make a deeper playoff run.

The Knicks have been hesitant to rush Mitch back. Expect him to play a reserve role or get a quick hook if he does start the game.

Power forward Rui Hachimura is back with the Wizards after an extended leave of absence for personal reasons. When last seen, he was the centerpiece of Japan’s Olympic team. The 6’ 8” Hachimura is projected to play on Wednesday. Rui has had little time to learn his new coach’s system and would benefit from the minutes, provided he is in competitive shape. Expect some rust in his game on Friday. Rui’s career line: 13.7/5.8/1.6.

He’ll face a tough opponent in his first game back. All-Star Julius Randle played wonderfully against the Pistons, tallying 29 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. He skipped the previous contest in Washington due to the pending delivery of his second child. In Wednesday’s postgame interview with Rebecca Haarlow, the hard-nosed Julius gushed like a happy papa.

Listen to this back and forth with Marc Berman:

On the brink of the 2020-21 season, many Knicks fans were ready to swap Jules for a second-round pick and a bag of Cheetos. Now he’s won our hearts. What a difference a year—and a helluva lot of hard work—makes.

Spencer Dinwiddie will start at lead guard for the Wizards. He went 3-9 on a 10/1/7 stat line versus the Raptors. Look for Kemba Walker to counter him in his return to action. During the Knicks’ recent blowout of the Wiz, Walker played 21 minutes and scored only six points. Numbers can be misleading, though. He rested for Wednesday’s game versus the Pistons, and NY’s offense seemed flat and disorganized early on. Kemba doesn’t need to post big stats to impact the game. It will be thrilling to see what happens when he and Mitchell Robinson finally share the court.

Evan Fournier played 26 minutes in Wednesday’s game and finished 5/2/0. Alec Burks got the call down the stretch. Fournier may start, but Thibs knows and trusts Burks. In pressure situations, Evan’s gonna watch from the pine.

Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal hopes to bounce back from a 1-11 shooting performance on Tuesday against Toronto. He finished with a 7/5/6 line. Surprisingly, he was a +12 for the night. Statistics make me scratch my head sometimes.

Beal will face off with RJ Barrett. When they last met, RJ went 4-8 from downtown and led the Knicks with 18 points. Against the Pistons, he finished 12/7/6. After a spotty start, he made a few crucial plays down the stretch. Fun fact: whenever I wore my RJ jersey last season, the Knicks lost. It stays in the closet now and at a safe distance from that Porzingis jersey I keep meaning to burn.

Against the Raptors, 6′ 10″ Daniel Gafford logged 14 points and 17 rebounds in 27 minutes. A frontcourt of Gafford and Hachimura should be a handful. No matter what happens with Mitchell Robinson, look for honorary Justice League member Taj Gibson to play significant minutes at center. He was lights out on Wednesday, and his joy for playing basketball is a delight to watch.

In Taj’s signature celebration, he mimes answering a phone. Taj is so old, it’s a rotary. Rimshot.

Nerlens Noel is still sitting with soreness, which he says is more hamstring than knee. He has sat out the entire preseason, but has been practicing. The Knicks staff and Nerlens have been erring on the side of caution. If he remains out when the season starts, however, prepare for panic on the streets of Manhattan.

Derrick Rose, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and Burks should round out NY’s second squad. Kevin Knox II should continue to get time, too. Once again, his shooting is promising, but his defense remains weak. Most likely, Leon Rose wants a decent KK2 mix-tape together to entice potential trade partners. Look for Kev to shoot more threes.

And in other news—Bacon out:

The World’s Most Famous Arena. Friday, 7:30 PM. Go the Knicks.

Prediction: Our heroes finish the preseason with a 4-0 record.