Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pre-Gaming: Knicks versus Wizards

Tip-Off: 7:30 PM @ MSG

I must admit that I bought these tickets just for the chance to see Gilbert Arenas, one of my favorite players in the Association to watch, play in person. Unfortunately, Agent Zero had his second knee surgery of 2007 in November and is still in street clothes. Up until last night I felt like I had made a serious mistake including this game in my ultra-expensive mini-plan for this season. And, then I found out that the Wizards had pulled off their improbable home-and-home sweep of the vaunted Boston Celtics thanks to Caron Butler's game-winning bucket. All of a sudden the Wiz seemed like a pretty good team to go see on a Tuesday night.

And, all of a sudden, this is a big game for the Knicks that take the floor tonight. The Wizards are not a great team but they are a solid team that plays hard and plays to win on a nightly basis. They are an honest basketball team, which is exactly what I want the Knicks to be and what, dare I say, the Knicks (or at least some of them) have shown hints of becoming over the past week or so against the Spurs, Bulls, Rockets and Pistons.

Things to Know:

Like the Wizards who will be without Arenas, the Knicks will be without their "best" player as Marbury continues to be sidelined with an ankle injury and a bruised psyche. Caron Butler has assumed a leadership role for the Wizards and has been a monster on the court. Can Nate continue to play well for the Knicks and can the team find some cohesion?

Both teams are coming off surprising wins over superior opponents. The Wiz are coming off that shocking sweep of Boston and the Knicks are fresh off their mind-bending rout of the Pistons.

The Zach-Hole: He played well (meaning he shot the ball well) against the Pistons. What does he do tonight?

Brendan Haywood versus the Knicks frontcourt: The man in the pivot for the Wiz is averaging ten and a half per game so far this season and less than that for his career. Still, he is a traditional center listed at 7-feet which is a recipe for disaster for the Knicks regardless of any scoring prowess.

Caron Butler versus ?: Renaldo Balkman was back in the rotation on Sunday night. Butler seems like the sort of player that we should assign to Balkman.

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