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Open Thread and Contest: Game 38

Regular Season Game 38
Knicks (17-22) at Wizards (21-16)
Verizon Center
7 PM

Previous Results: Knicks 102, Wizards 82, Wizards 113, Knicks 102.

The Wizards come home today to face the surprisingly decent New York Knicks tonight.  If you're wondering about that decent record, well, you're not alone.  The Knicks have won 4 of 5 recently, and Stephon Marbury is finally playing like the Stephon of old as of late.  The Knicks are 8-5 since the brawl, and are finally looking like a real team.

To help us preview the Knicks, I exchanged e-mails with regular blog reader Seth, who runs a great Knicks site called Your New York Knicks.  You can see my answers to his questions on his site later.

Bullets Forever: It seems like Stephon Marbury is playing like the old Steph recently.  What do you think has been the key to his recent success?

Your New York Knicks: I think there are two keys. First of all, Steph appears to be healthy. The guy's a trooper, but he was clearly bothered by nagging effects of that shoulder injury, if not other things, at the beginning of the season. Secondly, Steve Francis is all but out of the picture. When Francis was around, Isiah would put Steph at the 2-guard, which confused the shit out of Mr. Marbury. He's not very adept at moving without the ball, and isn't much of a catch-and-shoot guy, so the role didn't fit. Either way, he's playing with a level of intensity and passion that we haven't seen since he first came to New York. It's a pleasure to watch.

BF: Much has been made about the so-called improvement of Eddy "Mittens" Curry.  How much do you think he's actually improved this year?

YNYK: Offensively, boatloads. I don't even know if the name "Mittens" fits anymore. He's gotten a lot better at handling passes and utilizing his size and position around the basket. The offense begins and ends with Curry. Some credit is due to Crawford and Marbury, as well, for their improvement in getting him the ball on time and in position. On defense, he's shown some improvement. He's a little bit more of an intimidator, but still needs to help out with a little more regularity. Either way, it's a shame that the kid's not gonna get recognized with an All-Star spot. He's really come along.

BF: The Knicks have been playing really good ball as of late.  What do you think have been some of the keys to their improvement?

YNYK: Well, those first two questions just about sum it up. Marbury is playing like the Marbury of the past, and Curry's playing like the Curry of the future. Add in David Lee's rebounding and the shooting of Frye and Richardson, and you've got a very solid offensive machine. Also, the Knicks have won a bunch of thrillers at home (Jazz, Pistons, Bobcats, Kings) that have gotten the fanbase back behind them. The Garden is starting to fill up again, and I bet it's encouraging for Isiah and the whole team.

BF: It's rumored that the Knicks are pursuing a buyout of former Maryland Terrapin Steve Francis.  How would you feel about such a move?

YNYK: As long as nobody's complaining, I'd rather just let him "rehab" (we all know he's at home playing Dungeons and Dragons) than pay for him to leave. I don't really see him playing in a Knicks uniform ever again, which is fine by me.

BF: With a 17-22 record, the Knicks are somehow knocking on the door to a playoff berth.  Do you believe they can be a playoff team?  If so, why, and if not, why not?

YNYK: Anything can happen. That's just how the Atlantic Divison rolls. I can't imagine the Knicks not winning this division but, then again, I've heard Nets and Raptors people say the same thing. One reason I'd see the Knicks coming out on top is that they played this first half of the season with a packed-ass schedule and a slew of injuries and suspensions. Now, with a full roster, and a little less fatigue, they should have more success in the second half. Most of the Knicks' division matchups come in these next few months, so those are gonna be some important games. I think this team could make a little noise in
the playoffs.

Knicks blogs: Your New York Knicks, Knickerblogger,  Father Knickerbocker.

Your lines for tonight:

Knicks at Wizards: Wizards by 8.5.
Over/Under on Big 3: 69.9 points.

As a reminder, this is an open game thread, so any snide comments on Isaiah's stupid decision to sign Jared Jeffries go here.