Well, here we go again.The Wizards are 22-27 and looking to fight to get back to .500 and in the playoff race once again.
The Wizards are only four games back in the loss column behind the 4th seed in the East, but even with a weak schedule after the All-Star break it may be a stretch to think the team can still make a postseason run.
With just two games left before the All-Star break, the Wizards can go into the break just three games under .500 at best. But their inconsistent play that has plagued them throughout the season cannot show up anymore. They have to buckle down and make their move because there are only two months left before playoff basketball starts and the real deal is here.
The New York Knicks should prove to be a good litmus test for this squad.
The Knicks have lost five straight games and are losers in nine of their last 10 games. This seems like it should be an easy one -- except it probably won't be.
The Knicks have just fired Derek Fisher as their head coach and Kurt Rambis is taking the reigns of the team. Whether Rambis is a good coach or not is up for debate. But what is almost a certainty at this point is that the Knicks will play hard tonight against Washington on their home floor.
Anytime a coach is fired, there's a bit more of an edge to a team the next time they step on the floor. Expect plenty of momentum for the Knicks early on.
When: 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time
Where : Madison Square Garden, New York City, NY
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1 WNEW with Dave Johnson and Glenn Consor
Wizards: Alan Anderson is out with an ankle injury; Kris Humphries is a game-time decision with a knee injury; Nene is day-to-day with a calf injury.
Knicks: Carmelo Anthony is day-to-day with a knee injury; Lance Thomas is day-to-day with a concussion.
Keys to the game
Come out with an edge
As we discussed earlier, the Knicks have a brand new head coach. There will be a heightened sense of accountability throughout the building from the Knicks' coaching staff on the bench to the 15th man.
The Wizards will need to match the Knicks' sense of desperation and intensity as the game starts. At some point, talent will take over. As bad as the Wizards have been this season, when healthy they should be good enough to beat the Knicks without Carmelo Anthony if he can't give it a go.
Clean up the glass
The Wizards' defensive scheme has absolutely been a negative this season. Their aggression on defense plus their inability to rebound the ball on both ends have put them in sticky situations all season long. The Wizards are one of the very worst rebounding teams in the league and are going up against Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez -- two great glass crashers.
The Wizards cannot allow the Knicks any extra offensive possessions due to rebounding. The Knicks have been abysmal on offense in their last four games posting just a 99.4 offensive rating. The Wizards should be able to defend this team, but they've got to keep them off the boards.
Wiz Killer of the Night
This pick is easy. Derrick Williams is your Wiz Killer of the night should the Wizards fall to the Knicks. If Carmelo Anthony doesn't play, Williams will probably see more floor time. He torched the Wizards earlier in this season and is just the type of player that would catch fire from deep and blow the Wizards out of the building.
He's bad enough to be one of the worst players in the league, but just good enough that the Wizards will leave him out of the scouting report and let him do him. Let's hope that isn't the case.