After a rough lost to the Detroit Pistons, the Washington Wizards look to get back on track as they host the New York Knicks. Washington's been awesome at home this year, especially against premiere teams, so this should be a good one.
Where and when? Tip off is at 7 p.m. EST at the Verizon Center.
Who's out? Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby are both out indefinitely for New York. In a related story, their combined age is 76. Washington will be without Cartier Martin, while Nene is questionable for tonight's game.
Are they good? Yes, albeit with a small asterisk. New York is 34-20, leads the Atlantic Division and sent two players to the All-Star game this year. That said, they may not be as good as their record and point differential indicate. New York has been the beneficiary of the NBA's second weakest schedule so far this year and have lost some steam since their hot start to the season. The reason? More on that later.
Why should I care? It's the Knicks, they're always fun to watch and/or root against. John Wall could also have a big game if he's able to use his speed to overwhelm Jason Kidd, Raymond Felton and the team's many older bigs.
What are they good at? Putting up points. This team has it all: one of the best one-on-one scorers of the last decade, a rejuvenated Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler dunking everything in his area code and a ton of guards and spot up shooters who know how to move the ball. As a result the Knicks boast the NBA's third best offensive rating.
What are they bad at? Moving on defense. New York boasts a number of solid defenders, most notably Chandler, Iman Shumpert and Kidd, yet the team's lack of youth leaves it vulnerable to players who can overwhelm them with their athleticism or out-veteran their veterans. The team's defense has fallen to 18th in the NBA after finishing 2012 ranked fifth. Perhaps even more troubling for fans of the team, ownership seems to be committed to bringing in veteran big men like Kenyon Martin whose reputations likely far exceed their ability to bottle up pick and rolls and contest shots in the paint without gambling.
Why aren't they making threes any more? New York's season got off to a scorching start from beyond the arc. Players like Kidd, Anthony and Smith all posted shockingly high three point percentages in the first month of the season and have since regressed to closer to their career norms. You don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but this could wind up being a problem down the road as these featured offensive players could very well become overconfident in their ability to score from deep. New York also doesn't have much in the way of a drive and kick attack, so unless Anthony, Smith and Felton are taking the ball into the paint, better shooters like Steve Novak are going to have difficulty getting the open looks that they feast on.
Where can I read more about the Knicks? Check out the always-excellent Posting and Toasting.