Wednesday, February 6, 2013
W2W4: Knicks at Wizards
By Jared Zwerling
After starting the season 0-12 and getting worse from there, the Wizards have recently gone 7-7. Their improved play began when star point guard John Wall returned to the lineup after missing about eight weeks with a left patella injury. Wall, who's averaging 14.1 points and 6.8 assists per game, is also where the Knicks' defense begins on Wednesday night, as they've had trouble lately containing opposing point guards.
Here are three things to watch, starting at 7 p.m.:
1. CONTAIN WALL. On the whiteboard in the Knicks' locker room before the Monday night's Pistons game, the first defensive key was "Transition D." Although they won easily, a big red flag in the contest was Detroit's 22 fastbreak points. The Knicks only had three.
Tonight, the Knicks face arguably the fastest guard in the NBA in Wall, who's also one of the best leapers and passers in the game. He has the luxury of looking for Martell Webster -- he's 10-for-17 from 3-point range in his last three games -- and his speedy perimeter teammates, such as Trevor Ariza and Jordan Crawford, and trailing big men, Nene and Emeka Okafor.
2. BIGGER MINUTES, BIGGER PLAY FROM SHUMPERT? It's only a matter of time before Iman Shumpert breaks out with more double-figure scoring games. "Rook" has been right there on a few 3-pointers and inside drives, but he sometimes looks a little confused when he gets in the paint, and doesn't attack all the way.
Repetition is important for Shumpert. The key is his playing time, which had increased to 27 since his return on Jan. 17. But Shumpert still needs time to feel things out on the court, after coming back from a serious knee injury, and the Knicks aren't necessarily pushing him.
3. MORE HOT SHOOTING? During the Knicks' five-game winning streak, they've been shooting a ridiculous 76-for-173 (43.9 percent) from downtown. The team with the second-highest makes, the Lakers, doesn't even come close. They've made 45 long balls, but only at 34.9 percent accuracy.