The New York Knicks stroll to town on a serious tear since welcoming Raymond Felton back into the starting lineup. They've won their last five games in a row, and the last four by double digits. But they're also going to be playing their first road game in over a week, and no matter how good you are, playing in an unfamiliar environment, even one that's sure to be as welcoming as the notoriously-road-friendly one at the Verizon Center, is different than playing at home.
Can the Wizards pull off the upset? Let's preview this one.
Where and When? Tip off is at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center.
Are They Any Good? Yes. The Knicks went through a stretch where things looked a bit grim after a fast start, but they've picked it up as of late. Felton is back after missing a month with a dislocated finger, and Iman Shumpert and Amar'e Stoudemire have been smartly integrated since returning from serious knee injuries.
Who's Out? Bradley Beal is a game-time decision, while Cartier Martin remains out. We'll see about Trevor Booker.Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are out for the Knicks.
Why Should I Care? Because there will be a special guest tonight.
What Are They Good At? This is a really dangerous offense in many ways. On the one hand, you have Carmelo Anthony, one of the league's most dangerous isolation scorers. Anthony remains prone to so-so shot selection, but he's curbed a lot of those tendencies to focus more on shooting threes and driving to the rim.
But once you get past Anthony, the job doesn't get easier. The Knicks space the floor beautifully and have many three-point shooters that you have to guard. And when that breaks down? The Felton/Tyson Chandler pick and roll is, surprisingly, one of the league's most effective. It's really pick your poison with this group.
What Are They Bad At? This isn't an especially great defense, especially in the first half of games. But as John Schuhmann of NBA.com noted a while back, the Knicks really turn up the screws after halftime.
Through Friday, the Knicks rank 28th in first-half defense, allowing 106.2 points per 100 possessions. And they rank seventh in second-half defense, allowing just 99.5. That's the second biggest discrepancy in the league.
The biggest, as of the time of the post? The Wizards, ironically.
How Has Amar'e Stoudemire been? A lot better recently. After getting off to a slow start, Stoudemire has hit 62 of his last 95 field-goal attempts and has been developing chemistry with Anthony and Chandler. It's still early, but this is a good sign for the Knicks.
How great is J.R. Smith? Pretty great.
Where Can I Learn More About the Knicks? Check out Posting and Toasting.