After having their four-game winning streak snapped in double overtime, the Knicks are back home to play the Wizards before All-Star weekend.
After a double-overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks to end their four-game winning streak, the New York Knicks (17-37) are back at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday to play the Washington Wizards (19-33)—their last contest before the NBA’s All-Star break. The game tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the Knicks are favored -140 to win, according to NBA odds.
Despite the Wizards’ poor record, this certainly isn’t going to be an easy matchup for the Knicks. Washington isn’t your typical 14-games-below-.500 team.
Washington’s offense ranks among the best in the league, as their 115.7 points per game is good for fifth in the NBA. Additionally, the Wizards play fast—and can shoot—as they rank fifth in the NBA in pace and 11th in the NBA in three-point shooting (36.5%). Considering the Knicks rank dead last in the NBA in opponent three-point percentage at 38.6%, it could be a rough night for them.
The Wizards also have a star player in Bradley Beal, who’s averaging 29.1 points and 6.3 assists per game. Beal was an All-Star the past two seasons before being snubbed this season. Another player who can pose a threat to the Knicks is Davis Bertans, averaging 15.0 points a night off the bench while shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc.
However, there is a reason why the Wizards have been bad this season. Their defense is the worst in the NBA as they ranked last in points allowed per game with 120.3.
The Wizards have allowed under 100 points in only three games this season, which is truly an incredible stat. Fortunately for the Wizards, the Knicks’ offense is dreadful, as they rank 28th in points per game at 104.9.
That being said, here are three other storylines to look out for in Wednesday night’s game.
Wayne Ellington has had the worst year of his career so far and it’s not even close. Before the trade deadline, Ellington was averaging 4.0 points in 14.1 minutes per game, and shooting only 30.1% from deep. Considering Ellington was signed to be a three-point specialist, this was not ideal.
In the three games since the trade deadline, Ellington has looked like a completely different player. Over that span, he’s averaged 14.7 points on 54.5% from beyond the arc.
There are multiple questions to be asked regarding Ellington. Can he continue to play at a high level? Even if he could, is he going to play when third-year guard Damyean Dotson gets back on the floor? Is he going to pursue a buyout with the Knicks to sign with a playoff team?
All these questions will be answered within the next week or two, but for now, Wayne Ellington will have a big role in this Knicks’ offense.
R.J. Barrett’s Struggles
While R.J. Barrett has showed flashes this season, there’s no doubt he hasn’t had the rookie season that many Knicks fans hoped.
In the three games since Barrett returned from his ankle injury after missing nine games, he’s been lost. He’s only averaging 20.4 minutes and has shot 30% from the field.
This last part of the season is massive for Barrett’s development. It’s incredibly important for him to regain his form so that he can continue to develop during this final stretch. Hopefully, it can happen as soon as Wednesday night.
Too many sick Knicks
It’s flu season, and an illness has struck the Knicks’ locker room with a vengeance. According to SNY’s Ian Begley, Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson, and Maurice Harkless are all questionable for Wednesday’s game due to illness.
Damyean Dotson, Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson and Maurice Harkless are all questionable for tomorrow’s game vs. Washington, per the Knicks. All four have been with illness.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) February 11, 2020
Dotson hasn’t played in the last three games, despite being active in the last two. Trier has been inactive for the last three games. Robinson is coming off arguably his best performance in the season versus the Hawks on Sunday, as he had 15 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks, and three steals in 35 minutes.
Harkless still hasn’t made his debut with the Knicks after being acquired via trade in the Marcus Morris deal last Thursday. The Queens native should be a nice addition to the Knicks as he’s shooting 37% from outside this season. Harkless is also a presence on the defensive end.