After beating the Trail Blazers, the Knicks have the chance to demolish another hapless team missing its main star as they face the Wizards.
The New York Knicks (29-40) enjoyed a rare blowout win Wednesday, shoving the Portland Trail Blazers in a locker in a 128-98 smackdown. Looking to build off that momentum, the Knicks will welcome a Washington Wizards (29-39) team that has all but given up on this season. The Wizards come in losers of their last five games and remain without their star, Bradley Beal, who they lost for the season.
This game should have the same feel and energy, or lack thereof, as Wednesday’s game. On Wednesday, RJ Barrett flexed his superiority with 31 points on an efficient 50.0% shooting from the floor (45.5% from deep). Immanuel Quickley had a stellar game of his own. In 25 minutes, Quickley was able to score 18 points on just five shot attempts.
Obi Toppin and Miles McBride also saw extended time due to the blowout, showcasing why they should see 20-plus minutes every night. Should Tom Thibodeau go against his instinct or simply lose track of time and give the young guys an extended run again, the Knicks could pick up another win versus a sinking team.
Here is what else to look out for in the latest edition of Friday Night Knicks.
Ain’t Nobody Come to See You, Julius
What Julius Randle did last season should never be forgotten. Having said that, it is RJ Barrett’s time. Everyone inside and outside of New York seems to grasp that, even the notoriously stubborn Tom Thibodeau—and Julius Randle.
This is not the biggest deal in the world, but Randle hoisted up 18 shots on Wednesday, connecting on just five of them. The 13 misses are not the issue, more so than the fact that Randle’s attempts took away from Barrett, who clearly had it going.
Knicks take a 66-55 lead into halftime as RJ Barrett leads the Knicks with 21 points pic.twitter.com/oc0AJeg9cu
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) March 17, 2022
Barrett has earned the right to be the undisputed top dog of the offense, and with that title should come preference when he is on fire. Randle decided to force his offense far too often instead of swinging the ball around to Barrett or anyone else. He happened to be the only Knick who shot below 50.0% other than Alec Burks.
Randle should still be aggressive, however, when his shot isn’t falling it would be better if he focused on his playmaking. On Wednesday, he did a great job in that department, dishing seven assists. New York still needs Julius Randle, just not the Julius Randle from 2021.
Return of the Unicorn
The best player on the current Wizards roster will find little love in MSG. Kristaps Porzingis failing out of Dallas will not quell any boos from The Garden faithful.
Porzingis has been surprisingly solid in his first six games as a Wizard, averaging 19.8 points per game, but the same warts in his game remain. Mitchell Robinson should look forward to feasting on the glass as Porzingis has averaged just 7.0 rebounds per game.
Injury Report: Grime Time Back?
Other than Beal, who is out for the season, the Wizards are fully healthy.
For the Knicks, the usual suspects remain on the injury report: Nerlens Noel (foot), Derrick Rose (ankle), and Quentin Grimes (knee).
There is a chance Grimes returns after dislocating his kneecap on February 25th. Grimes was cleared to return to practice and was a full participant on Tuesday, although the team decided to hold him out versus the Blazers, and was a full participant on Thursday.
Should Grimes be ready to run, a lineup of Barrett, Grimes, Quickley, Randle, and Toppin would be a fan’s delight.