New York is looking for a bounce-back win as 3 point favorites over the Wizards
Well, all good things must come to an end. In this case, the good thing for the Knicks was the four-game win streak they had which unfortunately ended Sunday night after they fell to the Atlanta Hawks 140-135 in double overtime. It’s a shame really because the Knicks would have been the talk of the town had they won that matchup and extended their winning streak to five games. New York would have theoretically been in contention for a playoff spot for the first time in what feels like eons! Regardless, the Knickerbockers are in a good spot at the moment and look like they are a team that is much improved from last year. In fact, New York has already matched their win total from last season, and we still have 28 games remaining in the regular season. It is a virtual guarantee at this point that the Knicks will finish this season with a better record than last year, when they finished with the worst record in the NBA.
Both the Knicks and the Wizards are playing some of their best basketball of the season at this time. Prior to Sunday, New York had won four straight games, which is the longest winning streak the team has had since the 2017-2018 season! Meanwhile, the Wizards aren’t playing out of this world, but they have played better recently than they have throughout most of this year. Washington was 13-28 back on January 17th and looked like one of the worst teams in the league. Since that time, the Wizards have gone 6-5 over their last 11 games, and they are currently 4-2 in their last six outings. Most recently, the Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls at home 126-114.
New York and Washington will be facing off for the third time this year with the season series tied at one game a piece. The first two games of this series were played five days apart in late December. The Wizards won the first matchup against the Knicks by a final score of 121-115 at Madison Square Garden. However, the Knicks would bounce back and steal a 107-100 victory over Washington on the road three days after Christmas. The complexion of these teams has changed a lot since then, but I still expect this to be a closely contested game.
The main difference between these two franchises is what their aspirations are for this season. For the Knicks, it appears that the team is just looking to continue to improve and grow with the young talent they have as they hope to secure another high draft pick come June. However, the Wizards actually have something to play for at the moment. The way things currently stand, Washington is just three games back from the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs! It seems completely ridiculous that a 19-win team has a chance to compete for a spot in the postseason, but here we are.
The last time I covered a game the Wizards were playing in, they were virtually on opposite ends of the statistical spectrum and that still remains to be true. Washington has a top five scoring offense, but they are dead last in defense, allowing opponents to put up 120.3 points per game, 1.5 points more than the next closest team. The problem is that the Knicks are not very good on either end of the floor. New York is middle of the pack in defense, allowing 111.7 points per game, but they have the third worst scoring offense in the NBA. The only teams that are worse than the Knicks at offense are the Magic and the Hornets.
Like most games that Washington has played this season, I expect there to be no defense in this one. I could see both teams putting up 130 points if this game goes into overtime. While New York has been good recently, I don’t think they have enough scoring to matchup with Washington’s Bradley Beal, Rui Hachimura, and Davis Bertans. This game will be close because both teams have something to prove, but I don’t think the Knicks’ offense will be able to get things done in the end. I like the Wizards to win this game outright.