Tonight, on the menu, the Knicks take on the 33-35 Washington Wizards. The Wizards are only a game and a half out of the 8th seed in the East and looking to make some things happen in the final weeks of the season. This is a team that started the year with high expectations, and John Wall was even heard to say that he’d be competing for the MVP. The pre-season predictions never quite materialized for the Wizards and I’m sure they’re all surprised to be out of the playoff mix this late in the year. A lot can happen between now and the final game, but it’s getting late early.
Wall looks like one of the best players in the league by the counting numbers, but his efficiency on offense is less than stellar, holding the team back in some respects. He’s undeniably a plus on the floor for the Wizards, but he does turn the ball over quite a bit. Bradley Beal was a pre-season darling to break out, even prompting some insane talk of the Wall/Bradley backcourt as an elite NBA tandem in the company of Curry/Thompson. While Wall has been quite good, generally, Beal never made his quantum leap into the elite of NBA shooting guards. In the end, you have a very good, but not great guard duo in Washington with room to continue improving. The Wizards really needed that quantum leap from Beal. The team has a decent collection of pros, including the solid strongman Marcin Gortat and an assortment of versatile, if unspectacular swing players.
The Knicks are languishing in a stretch of low energy performances, which have prompted Carmelo Anthony to question his teammates desire. As a fan, it’s hard to bring any sort of passion to the weekly contests. The team feels dead in the water. As a player, you hope that pride wells up every night to prevent yourself from being embarrassed, but these guys are human too. When you start to see opposing guards blowing by your teammates every night and there’s not a single adjustment you can make to stop it, you begin to lose your motivation as you confront nightly double digit deficits. The early season “fake comebacks” have become late season garbage time. This is the sort of thing that Phil Jackson watched last year to see who had the guts to play for him as the team began its rebuild. Certainly, he’s watching again as he tours with the club in person. It’s a sure thing that some of these Knicks bros will get their walking papers at the end of the year. It hasn’t been pretty.
This game has that classic shit show feel to it with Wall and Beal poised to drop 50+ on the Knicks. The Knicks seem to play the rest of the Wizards roster very competitively, so you feel like there’s hope. It will all depend on the forwards and bigs making up major territory on the guards…which is the story of the season…but it can happen. It has happened.
Enjoy the game. Be nice to yourselves and one another. It’s mercifully coming to an end before too long.