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Wizards vs. Knicks Pregame: A Tale Of Two Pretenders

wizknix

Washington at New York

February 9, 2016 at 8:00 PM
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
TV: CSN Mid-Atlantic
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

October 31, 2015 – Verizon Center: Knicks 117, Wizards 110
Game Notebook 3, Wizards vs. Knicks: A Mellow Opener Full Of Melo


What to watch

Two teams pretending to be contending.

Exhibit A: The Wizards. A team who vowed to play smaller, tried to play smaller, went away from playing smaller, and to this day, continues to struggle to play smaller. We’re more than halfway into the season, and it was only last week when the headlines surfacing from the Verizon Center were about a lack of identity for this Wizards team. The Wizards certainly have the idea for who they want to be (a fast-paced, ball-sharing team that spreads the floor), but have less of an idea for how to become who they want to be (hint: Gary Neal at the 3 isn’t the answer). But as Bullets Forever’s Umair Khan wrote in this piece, the Wizard may have a sparked a lightbulb and found themselves a little closer to achieving their #SquadGoals of playing smaller. SPOILER: it’s not something we haven’t heard of before.

Exhibit B: The New York Knicks. For a while, the Knicks seemed to have things in order. Phil Jackson at the helm provided optimism for the future. Derek Fisher, a long-time Jackson crony, was his puppet. Kristaps Porzingis has been great. Melo is playing well. At one point less than a month ago, the Knicks were 20-20, and like burnt chestnuts sold on every city corner, the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference was within smelling distance. But since then, the Knicks are 3-11, have lost 8 of 9, and the puppet strings on Fisher have been cut. Even the chestnut vendors have closed shop. The Knicks, per usual, made another bold move they felt was necessary to bring change for the better, and per usual, no one can tell if it’s the right one.


Key Matchup

Otto Porter vs. Carmelo Anthony

carmelo-anthony-guarded-by-otto-porter-trading-jerseys

I’m not sure if Otto Porter had ever experienced a more spookier Halloween than the one he spent trying to defend Carmelo Anthony in the Wizards home opener a few months ago. Melo scored 37 points that night, with 16 of them coming directly at the expense of Otto’s defense. Let me put it this way: if this was Otto Porter trick-or-treating at Melo’s door, he would’ve came away with nothing but a handful of candy corn. Let me put it to you in more frank terms: Otto got absolutely shitted on.

To be fair to Otto, it’s very normal the fact that Melo gon’ Melo. You can square up against him, put a hand in his face, distrupt his penetration and it won’t matter. You can give him little to no space but that’s perfectly fine, because he doesn’t need it anyway. Melo’s prowess as a scorer is boundless, and it was evident not only against Otto, but any defender who matched up against him.

To be critical of Otto, he needs to prevent himself from getting wiped out on every screen the way he was back in October. While Melo can shred your heart and demean your little existence with his prolific style of offense, there’s a better chance he won’t if you don’t lose him on a screen. Also- I hope the game film also triggered an idea of throwing an extra defender or two at Melo. Otto is a doll but has proven to be some ways away from being a showstopper against superstars, especially in one-on-one situations.


X-factor

Coaching.

Kurt Rambis makes his Knicks coaching debut at the Garden against Randy Wittman tonight which seems like the perfect opportunity for him to forget how shitty of a coach he was in his last stint at the position. Rambis coached the Timberwolves from 2009-2011 and won just 32 games total over a span of 164. Based on his coaching history, Rambis should not be able to outcoach Randy Wittman tonight. However, based on Randy Wittman’s coaching history, he may still very well outcoach Wittman tonight.


Fun Factor:

Old school Kurt!

KR

kurt-rambis-los-angeles-lakers

INGLEWOOD, CA - CIRCA 1987: Kurt Rambis #31 of the Los Angeles Lakers posts up against the Denver Nuggets circa 1987 at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1987 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Also impressive is how Kurt Rambis got himself to go from Walter White in season 1 of Breaking Bad to John Ritter:

rambis-then-now-425


Prediction

#RIP Walter White. #RIP John Ritter. And still, #RIP Kurt Rambis’ coaching record.

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