A win today over the Washington Wizards (34-43) would clinch a playoff spot for the New York Knicks (45-33).
Get your confetti ready.
The Knicks lead the season series 2-1, and last beat Washington in February, 115-109. Wes Unseld Jr.’s squad has lost seven of their last ten games, including a Friday night choke-job against the Orlando Magic, 116-109.
All season, the Zards have been an enigma, equally capable of winning an impossible game or losing a gimme. This evening, however, they shouldn’t pose too much opposition. According to the injury report, DC’s finest will be without the services of Bradley Beal (knee), Kristaps Porziņģis (illness), and Kyle Kuzma (ankle).
Playoffs, here we come. Tip-off’s at 6:00 p.m. EST.
On Friday, without Julius Randle (sprained ankle), the Knicks needed to find an extra 20+ points somewhere. Jalen Brunson said No problem and promptly scored a career-high 48-in their win over Cleveland. This evening, he’ll face off against Monte Morris (6’2”, 183 lb.), who has averaged 10.3 points, 5.3 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 62 games this season.
Over the last five games, Quentin Grimes has regained his shooting touch and averaged 19.6 points per contest. In his last five games, Wizard Delon Wright (6’5”, 185 lb.) has averaged 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Look for QDot to eat him up.
RJ Barrett posted 14 points and added seven rebounds versus the Cavaliers. ‘Twas another mixed bag from Mr. Maple—without Randle, the Knicks should get more offensive production from RJ, not less, and yet, he hit one or two timely threes to help drive a dagger into Cleveland’s chest; on the defensive end, he seems to have two brain farts for every single competent play. After a season of this, none should be surprised.
Tonight, he’ll pair up with Corey Kispert (6’7”, 220 lb.). Kispy—not Krispy—put up 27 points against the Magic (and shot 9-of-14 from beyond the arc), but it wasn’t enough to carry his club to a win. His efforts will likely be wasted again tonight.
Obi Toppin played 19 minutes in Cleveland. In that time, he scored 12 points (on 5-of-7 shooting) and grabbed only one rebound, which is the issue. Giving the benefit of the doubt, perhaps Thibs limits Obi’s minutes not due to animus, but because the power forward doesn’t play physically enough or chase down loose balls, and he blows too many defensive assignments.
Obi will get another chance to start tonight, this time against Deni Avdija (6’9”, 210 lb.). In his third campaign, Deni has averaged 9.2 points and 6.5 rebounds in 26.5 minutes—career bests, all.
Mitchell Robinson recorded 10 points and 14 boards in Cleveland for his 12th double-double of the season. One of those double-doubles came in his last game against Daniel Gafford (6’10”, 234 lb.). No reason for the big Cajun not to repeat that today!
Inhale deeply and you may detect the suspicious scent of a trap game. Don’t be misled by your olfactory system. While he’s unlikely to cook up another 40-burger, Jalen Brunson has been focused on the postseason since his contract-signing day, and he will make sure to seal the deal tonight. New York by 15.
Madison Square Garden. NYC. 6:00 p.m. EST. B-E A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E Knicks!