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Preview: Knicks are strong favorites to hand Wizards a 6th straight loss

Portland Trail Blazers v New York Knicks
The Washington Wizards visit Madison Square Garden Friday night to take on Julius Randle and the New York Knicks.
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

At 29-39, the Washington Wizards sit 11th in the East, a half game ahead of the 29-40 New York Knicks. While the records are about the same, the Knicks are significantly better in non-record measures of team strength.

So far this season, the Wizards are -3.09 in strength of schedule adjusted scoring margin, which ranks 23rd. The Knicks rank 18th at -0.49. Both teams are trying to win enough to reach 10th and get into the play-in games. New York has been more successful recently — they’ve won four of their last six. Washington has lost five straight.

The Knicks’ problems this season are somewhat similar to Washington’s. The players they consider their best — Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett — are colossally overrated. Both score below average in my PPA metric (Randle: 90; Barrett: 75). Randle rates slightly above average in John Hollinger’s PER, primarily because PER rewards players for taking shots.

New York’s most productive player on a per possession basis is big man Mitchell Robinson. Their best guard, Derrick Rose, is injured. Their “prize” perimeter free agents, Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier have been thoroughly meh — and Walker is now out for the rest of the season.

Wizards at Knicks — Rankings

OFFENSE KNICKS WIZARDS
OFFENSE KNICKS WIZARDS
eFG% 26 16
tov% 13 11
reb% 5 25
ftm/fga 2 9
ortg 23 20
DEFENSE KNICKS WIZARDS
eFG% 7 13
tov% 26 30
reb% 3 19
ftm/fga 17 26
DRTG 11 25

If the Wizards can’t find some measure of defensive success against the crappy Knicks offense, Tommy Sheppard needs to be shopping for new players (he already should be), and Wes Unseld Jr. oughta start benching guys until he’s short a man and telling the refs, “My team is on the floor.”

While broadcast crews — and the teams themselves — may pretend this game is a battle to see who can get closer to 10th, in reality it’s about which team ends up with more chances in the NBA’s draft lottery. Both teams are five games behind the Atlanta Hawks in the win column, and the odds of making up that kind of ground with what’s left of the schedule is vanishingly small.

Expected Rotations

Wizards Starters

PG — Raul Neto

SG — Corey Kispert

SF — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

PF — Kyle Kuzma

C — Kristaps Porzingis

Bench

G — Ish Smith

G — Tomas Satoransky

F — Deni Avdija

F — Rui Hachimura

C — Daniel Gafford

Knicks Starters

PG — Alec Burks

SG — Evan Fournier

SF — RJ Barrett

PF — Julius Randle

C — Mitchell Robinson

Bench

G — Immanuel Quickley

G — Miles McBride

G — Ryan Arcidiacono

F — Obi Toppin

F — Jericho Sims

F/C — Taj Gibson

DraftKings Odds

DraftKings Sportsbook odds indicate the bookmakers (and bettors) agree with the numbers showing the Knicks are better.

  • Spread: Knicks -5
  • Total (over/under): 224.5
  • Moneyline: Wizards +175; Knicks -210

Prediction Machine

My prediction machine has the Knicks with a 65% chance of winning. The DraftKings line is in agreement with my numbers. New York as a 5-point favorite implies a 66% chance of winning, according to bookmakers and bettors. My machine forecasts a total of 216 points. That would suggest taking the under.

In the category of Predictions Sure to Go Wrong, IF I was to wager on this game, I’d pick the Knicks to win and cover, and I’d bet the under. Friendly reminder: Do not use these predictions as a basis for actual wagers.

Check out DraftKings Sportsbook, the official sportsbook partner of SB Nation.