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Game Preview: Knicks vs Wizards, 3/23/2021

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Home and away.

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

The Knicks set out on a home and home with the Washington Wizards tonight. First stop: Madison Square West. Glaring at the sixth seed Hornets without LaMelo Ball (broken wrist) the Knicks must assuredly have a palpable blood thirst going into tonight’s matchup. The Wizards are a terrible team that can score gobs of points. On the season they’re 15-26, and 2-8 in their last ten. Bradley Beal has been terrorizing team defenses all year, dumping 37 on the Bucks and 43 on the Jazz in the past week and his season high was 60 against those dastardly 76ers.

Tonight the Knicks and their stout defense will try their hand. I’d suggest giving Ntilikina some minutes to help snuff out Beal’s iridescence but I’m sure there will be some sort of face-valuable reason for Alec Burks to be commandeering the second unit.

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

Projected Starters

However Tom Thibodeau rolls with the starters and bench, he’ll probably give Derrick Rose as much as he can handle because Derrick Rose is back!

Rose has made the best case for deserving the starting minutes at the point guard slot this year and so long as his stamina is up to par he should get the nod tonight. Rose’s north-south slashing opens up much of New York’s mechanics. I dunno baseball but don’t you need a fastball to unlock your off-speed pitches? Hello, RJ Barrett.

Derrick Rose v Go Under Westbrook

Reggie Bullock v Bradley Beal

RJ Barrett v Get Over, Son Matthews

Julius Randle v Food

Nerlens Noel? v Alex Len

The biggest question mark is when does Mitchell Robinson get back into the starting lineup. If he can’t stay healthy, that is rightly a big problem. He twisted his ankle something gnarly against Philly. I want him to start and play big minutes but I do not like that there is always something going on for Mitchell this season. Stay healthy, young man!

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

Keys & Predictions

Well someone should step up on Beal. Reggie Bullock’s size advantage should be somewhat of a deterrent but that kid can really chop defenders into bite size pieces. If Beal goes off, you’d better hope that no one else tosses in some ridiculous 20-point game on seven shots or something obnoxious. The amount of attention Beal commands means that defenders will keep digging further and further off their man until eventually you do have Garrison Matthews getting an optimal heart rate and checking the market for an NFT of the specific moment he’s in before calmly draining an open 28-footer.

New York should rely on what’s brought them to this point and the things that have been carrying them while some of their guards have been on the shelf. That means your All Star, Julius Randle and your burgeoning youngster, RJ Barrett. This brick shithouses have been death defying time and again of late, only to be dropped on death’s door by calls and no-calls in critical moments.

Game is at 7:30, Knicks by -1.

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

Parting Shot

This set against a legitimately bad Wizards club is really a crucial pair. After this one, New York’s next ten games are against playoff and championship caliber teams including but not limited the Bucks, Nets and Heat. After that you’re looking at the Mavericks, Grizzlies and Celtics. We’ll count the Lakers out for now but in the not too distant future there’s a Nuggets-Suns-Clippers trio that might hurt a lot if the Knicks are still just a .500-esque team looking for a way to solidify their standing in the slippery Eastern Conference playoffs.

New York Knicks’ Larry Johnson (Bottom) tries to g Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP via Getty Images