The Knicks are looking to bounce back from two tough losses to the Miami Heat. The Wizards are 3-8 since their COVID 19 outbreak and will be without Bradley Beal tonight. Both teams have had surprising seasons so far. Vegas projected the Knicks to finish with 22.5 wins (they’re halfway there) and the Wizards to finish ninth in the conference with 32.5 wins (they have 6 wins and are second to last). Watch out for the stark difference on the defensive end, as the Knicks lead the Eastern Conference allowing 103 PPG. The Wizards are dead last, allowing 120.9 PPG.
The upcoming trade deadline brings a sense of PTSD for Knicks fans. They check the news expecting the worst and are pleasantly surprised to see the safe swap of Dennis Smith Jr. and a second round pick for Derrick Rose. Or as Clyde Frazier put it, a second round pick for Derrick Rose. The only person happier than Knicks fans is coach Tom Thibodeau, as he’s now coached Rose every step of his career; Chicago, Minnesota, and now New York. Rose says they have “synergy.” Thibodeau still calls Rose “elite.” Rose put up 14 points and 3 assists in 20 minutes in his return to the Knicks on Tuesday.
A good start.
Expect Thibodeau’s rotations to stay under a microscope as Rose inevitably earns more time on the court. As Austin Rivers has been relegated to “situational” usage (ie, benched), Rose will most likely eat up minutes from Elfrid Payton. This will sooth fears that rookie Immanuel Quickley will see his playing time reduced. Rose and Quickly played well together, leading the Knicks’ second unit. As New York makes a playoff run, the push and pull between Thiboedau’s trusted vets and his energetic rookies will be fascinating to watch.
Bradley Beal will be rested for the first time this season; rested, not traded. The Wizards are not going to trade Bradley Beal. Despite his open frustrations and Washington’s abhorrent start to the season, the star guard is not going anywhere anytime soon. He will be missed tonight, as he is one of two players in the league, Stephen Curry being the other, who has outscored the rest of their team’s starting lineup five times. Expect Russell Westbrook to take a lot of shots tonight as he’ll look to replicate his 41 point gem against the Brooklyn Nets two weeks ago. Since then, Russ is averaging only 16.3 PPG while shooting 45.3% from the field and 26.7% on three pointers.
Washington’s bright spots this season pretty much start and end with Beal. Center Thomas Bryant has been out for a month with a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the year, leaving the Wizards especially vulnerable in the front court. Rui Hachimura continues a mundane sophomore season, averaging 13.3 PPG (2.2 less than last year), while posting a -1.86 Defensive Real Plus-Minus which is a league worst for Power Forwards. Yet in a weak Eastern Conference, the Wizards sit only 3 games out of the 10 seed and a spot in the play-in tournament.