The New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards will face off in an NBA 2021-22 preseason game at the Capital One Arena in Washington, DC, on Saturday. After a major facelift of their respective rosters, the Knicks and the Wizards will seek to iron out kinks as they gear up for the regular season.
The New York Knicks opened their preseason campaign by surprisingly pummeling another postseason candidate, the Indiana Pacers. Tom Thibodeau's team displayed aggressiveness and decisiveness in carving open the Pacers' defense. It remains to be seen if they can continue their impressive start against the Wizards.
Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards had a tough battle with the Houston Rockets before losing a close game. New coach Wes Unseld Jr. has several new faces in his lineup, and could continue tinkering with his combinations against the Knicks.
Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie, the new 1-2 punch of the Washington Wizards, had a quietly good start. The pair could build on that if Unseld Jr. continues with the same backcourt tandem.
Fixture: New York Knicks vs Washington Wizards.
Date and Time: Saturday, October 9; 7:00 PM ET (Sunday, October 10; 4:30 AM).
Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC.
New York Knicks Preview
After their disappointing loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the New York Knicks went out to get more firepower. The additions of former Connecticut star Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier are expected to improve the Knicks' dismal 110.2 offensive rating last year; the Knicks were only ranked 22nd in the league.
Walker had 12 points in as many minutes against the Hawks, while the French Olympian put up 12 points in 19 minutes. The duo could help All-Star forward Julius Randle find more open space to operate in the post for the New York Knicks.
The New York Knicks' frontline is a little thin right now. Mitchell Robinson is still out, and Nerlens Noel has been declared as day-to-day. Thibodeau can't also risk Taj Gibson to injury, as there's almost no one behind him to handle the center slot. How the frontcourt is rotated is a potentially compelling storyline in this game.
Thibodeau might play it safe and insert Immanuel Quickley as the starter to preserve Walker's creaky knees. The New York Knicks would also likely keep Derrick Rose's minutes down.
Key Player - Julius Randle
Julius Randle, the focal point of the New York Knicks' offense, is displaying mid-season form already. He ended with 20 points and nine rebounds in close to 30 minutes of action in his last preseason game. There is already growing chemistry between Walker and Randle that should bode well for the team.
The Randle-Walker pick-and-pop dance showed glimpses of potential, although Randle air-balled an attempt in the duo's first try. Their chemistry is bound to get better, as Walker is a dynamic player who always gets the screener involved. Randle's numbers with the New York Knicks could be even better, as Walker orchestrates the plays.
The key improvement in Randle's game would be cutting down his turnovers. It was only one preseason match, but he committed no turnovers in the game. His turnover average of 3.4 in the regular season went up to 4.6 in the postseason last year. As the central offensive hub of the New York Knicks, he simply can't be that turnover-prone.
New York Knicks Predicted Lineup
Immanuel Quickley | G - Evan Fournier | F - RJ Barrett | F - Julius Randle | C -Jericho Sims.
Washington Wizards Preview
The new-look Washington Wizards traveled to the Toyota Center to test their retooled roster against the Houston Rockets. Like many preseason games, it was a mixed bag. Although the Wizards lost the game, a few things stood out.
It always starts with Bradley Beal when it comes to the Washington Wizards. The ultra-talented All-Star was his usual self. He was a threat every time he was on the floor, and had the attention of two or three Rockets players all the time. Whether he signs an extension with the Washington Wizards or not could define this team this season and in the years to come.
Spencer Dinwiddie is one whom the Washington Wizards are pinning their hopes on to break out as a star. He looked good after coming back from an injury. He was smooth and found Beal in his most comfortable spots. There is hope in the Wizards organization that the pair would blossom into something better than the Beal-Westbrook duo.
Montrezl Harrell, as a backup center, is looking to bounce back from a modest campaign with the LA Lakers. Should he play the way he did in winning the Sixth Man of the Year award a few seasons ago, the Washington Wizards could win another eighth seed in the playoffs.
Key Player - Bradley Beal
Simply put, Bradley Beal is the best player on both the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards, and it's not even close.
Beal has carried the Wizards franchise through different roster changes. He has played with John Wall and Westbrook at different times during his career with Washington. Despite the inconsistent performances of the team, Beal has been consistently good for them.
How the Washington Wizards perform this season could determine Beal's future. His budding chemistry with Spencer Dinwiddie is a good start. But he knows that the preseason would be meaningless unless the Wizards can do better than their first-round exit last season.
Washington Wizards Predicted Lineup
Spencer Dinwiddie | G - Bradley Beal | F - Kyle Kuzma | F - Corey Kispert | C - Daniel Gafford
Knicks vs Wizards Match Prediction
The New York Knicks are a more complete team, at least at the start of the preseason, and that showed in their game against the Pacers. Their bench is slightly better, which could be the difference, as both coaches are likely to limit the playing time of their projected starters.
Thibodeau is also a demanding disciplinarian on the defensive side of the ball, which would become significant if the offense misfires.
Wes Unseld Jr., meanwhile, has his work cut out, considering the Washington Wizards' recent showing. They need better contributions from Raul Neto, Davis Bertans and Kyle Kuzma. Playing on their home floor should energize them.
It could be a close one, with the New York Knicks pushing their winning streak to two games.
Where to watch Knicks vs Wizards?
The NBC Sports Washington Show and MSG Network will air the preseason match between the New York Knicks and the Washington Wizards locally. The NBA League Pass will also show the same NBA preseason game.
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Also check out: Complete NBA Preseason TV Schedule for 2021