After a very solid 109-94 victory at home against the Houston Rockets, the Knicks will face off against the 7-32 Washington Wizards for a third and final time this year. Needless to say, the Wizards (who come into tonight’s matchup 4-18 on the road on the season) have had a very tough time this year and even more difficult as of late.
Over their last 10 games, they’ve had to play the Cavaliers twice, the Knicks once, the Thunder once, and the Pacers once with three of those games being played away from home. That’s led them to a less-than-ideal 2-8 record in their last 10 games and unfortunately for them and their fans, things aren't getting any easier.
After tonight’s game, they’ll have a winnable game against the Spurs but will follow that one by hosting the Nuggets, Timberwolves, and Jazz for a tough three-game stretch where they will steadily be pretty significant underdogs.
To make things worse, Washington, unlike a lot of the other bottom dwellers in the league, don’t really have a young star or future face of the franchise to look forward to. Kyle Kuzma is a 28 year-old veteran who seems to be perpetually involved in trade rumors, Jordan Poole, who was once thought of as a potential star, is tanking his value weekly as he currently holds the worst plus-minus in the league, and recent first round picks Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert, while solid, have been nothing more than mediocre.
The Wizards do have 19 year-old lottery-pick Bilal Coulibaly, who has shown some really nice flashes throughout the beginning portions of this season, but they still don’t have a Cade Cunningham or a Victor Wembanyama to help ease the pain of such a loss-filled season.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have been trending in the opposite direction. New York did hit a bit of a rough patch where the offensive execution and defensive effort looked subpar for a three-game stretch, but a win tonight would make it 8-2 for them in their last 10 games and would also put the Knicks just half a game behind the Cavaliers for the fourth seed in the Eastern conference. Now with Jalen Brunson back from a two-game absence, they look to take advantage of a what should be the easiest portion of their schedule with 10 of their next 12 games being at home.
Simply put, the Knicks, despite having a game last night, should complete their three-game season-sweep of the Wizards tonight. Washington currently holds the third-worst record in the Association and while New York has given us some scares with some less-than-stellar performances against bad teams, there’s just no reason for them not to win this game.
Look for Brunson, who is averaging 32.5 PPG and 7.5 APG against the Wiz this season, to pick up where he left off last night and have another strong scoring performance and expect Isaiah Hartenstein, who grabbed 19 rebounds in their last meeting, to be dominant on the boards once again as the Wizards will be without their starting center and leading rebounder, Daniel Gafford. Also, keep an eye on Julius Randle. The All-Star forward, who went off for 39 points against the Wizards earlier this month, could have some extra motivation thanks to what Avdija said about Randle after the game.
Knicks win, 123-108.
Who: New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards
When: 7:30 pm EST, Thursday, January 18, 2024
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY