Here are a few things to keep an eye on during tonight's Knicks-Wizards game:
Conflicted: If you're a Knicks fan, you'll want to keep an eye on the scoreboard tonight. The Cavs-Hawks game in Atlanta will have a direct impact on the Knicks' playoff chances.
Let's assume for a second that the Knicks beat the Wizards tonight.
If Atlanta wins, it means the Knicks would remain percentage points ahead of the Hawks for eighth place in the East and move three games ahead of Cleveland.
If the Cavs win, the Knicks would move a game ahead of Atlanta and the two teams would be tied in the loss column. The Knicks would also maintain a two-game edge over Cleveland.
If the Knicks lose and Atlanta wins tonight, the Hawks would take over eighth place again and move a game ahead of New York, two up in the loss column.
A Knicks loss combined with a Cavs win means New York would remain in eighth place -- percentage points ahead of the Hawks -- and would be just one game ahead of Cleveland.
The stakes are high at the Garden and Phillips Arena tonight.
D-Fense: The Knicks have won 12 of 15 to climb all the way out of the basement of the Eastern Conference and back into the playoff race.
They've gotten it done most recently on the defensive end. In their past three games (all wins), the Knicks are allowing teams to hit just 38 percent of their field goals and 32 percent of their 3-point attempts. On the season, the Knicks are allowing 106 points per 100 possessions. In the past three games, that number has dropped to 95 points per 100 possessions. Not bad.
On Thursday, president Phil Jackson praised the Knicks for their defensive efforts.
"I think [it's] one of the reasons why they’ve been successful in the last month and a half," Jackson said.
On Friday, the Knicks will have to deal with a Wizards team led by a red-hot John Wall. The first-time All-Star is averaging 19.8 points per game and had 31 points in the first Knicks-Wizards game.
Wall's counterpart Raymond Felton was hobbled in the second half of the Knicks' win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Felton fell hard on his right side and was diagnosed with a bruised rib and a back injury. He vowed Wednesday he'd be on the floor Friday. It will be worth keeping an eye on his mobility. Maybe Mike Woodson chooses to stick Iman Shumpert on Wall instead of Felton.
Love for Shump: Speaking of Shumpert, the third-year guard received some praise from Jackson for his stellar play on defense against the Nets.
Shumpert had four first-half steals to fuel the Knicks to a 25-point first-half lead in their blowout win.
"I’m still a coach that believes in pressure, pressure defense, playing like we saw the Knicks play last night -- anticipation, turnovers become run-outs," Jackson said. “I was able to tell Iman today that’s what has to be seen on a basis that we’d like to see from game to game."
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