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Game Preview: Knicks at Wizards, 2/12/21

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New York Knickerbockers v Washington Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Back in effect. The Knicks shoot over to DC to face the Wizards. After a spirited set of losses against the Heat, New York will go up against a team, much less inclined to dig in on the defensive end. Julius Randle and the gang have been a brooding group on the defense and the league is finally starting to see that as they’ve started to punch back and New York’s offensive struggles have become the highlight of their travails.

Can they get one in the win column today? The ‘Zards already struggle on defense, they have had a tough time getting Davis Bertans rolling this year, COVID has annihilated them and today they’ll be without their star, Bradley Beal. Maybe that gives Russell Westbrook the room to go nutso and the Knicks don’t have answers for him, I suppose.

The Elfrid Payton-shouldn’t-be-starting argument heated up with the insertion of Derrick Rose into the line up. For his part Rose looked fantastic, just barely getting clearance to play in time and having a whole new crew of teammates couldn’t have been easy.

Washington Bullets v New York Knicks Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Projected Starters

As I mentioned Beal will be out tonight so the Wizards will have to get some added production across the linuep. The Knicks’ point guard situation might be as muddy as ever but they will probably still trot out the usual starters.

Elfrid Payton v Russell Westbrook

Reggie Bullock v Raul Neto

RJ Barrett v Dāvis Bertāns

Julios Randle v Rui Hachimura

Mitchell Robinson v Alex Len

I mean, ok. With no Beal I’d expect to some Garrison Matthews and Troy Brown minutes. Raul Neto is the guy that has been counted on most though. Maybe we’ll get a decent grip of Robin Lopez at the 4 spot. He lets it fly these days. Speaking of grip, check out this tight squeeze as Dave DeBusschere tries to sneak one past Wes Unseld.

New York Knicks v Baltimore Bullets
Tight squeeze!

Keys & Predictions

How capably the Knicks can run the Wizards off the three point line will be paramount for their success tonight. Beal or not, this team can unload on you. If the Knicks treat Bertāns like they did Lauri Markkanen recently, it’s going to be a series of self inflicted stab wounds.

Turning around on the other end, Julius has every right to be offended by the Wizards sending Rui Hachimura to guard him. Is today the day Jules fully activates and stamps a 40-piece on the capitol steps? Only time will reveal.

Sorry (not sorry), had to get one last jab in. Maybe I’ll write an article making the case for Elfrid Payton since no one who supports his inclusion in the starting lineup seems to be interested in doing that. They just want me to be nice to him. Would that make it all better?

Knicks by -3

New York Knicks v Washington Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Parting Shot

The Knicks actually really need this one. Their leader needs to come out strong and show these Wizards just what they’re all about. Julius is on the verge of an All Star nomination. Having a giant game on your resume, even if it’s against a smelly defense, would help the recency bias of it all. Clyde Frazier always talks about relying on his captain, Willis Reed in times of need. If ever there was a time to channel the captain...

New York Knickerbockers v Washington Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images