TOK Game Preview – New York Knicks vs. Washington Wizards

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After arguably their best win of the season, pouring 125 points all over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the New York Knicks’ winning streak has reached a dozen. Now they go for the ol’ baker’s dozen tonight against the Washington Wizards…and oh yeah, for an actual piece of hardware, too.

Current Standings – New York (50-26) – 2nd in the Eastern Conference (10 games behind the Miami Heat), 1st in the Atlantic Division (6 games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets). Washington Wizards (29-48) – And playing for lottery balls.

Injury Update – New York – Kenyon Martin (questionable, knee), Marcus Camby (questionable, foot), Tyson Chandler (neck, doubtful), Kurt Thomas (out, foot), Amare Stoudemire (out, knee), Rasheed Wallace (out, foot). Washington – Trevor Booker (questionable, tailbone), Bradley Beal (out, fibula), Leandro Barbosa (out, knee)

Previous Meetings – The Knicks beat the Wizards back on November 30 at MSG, 108-87, and March 1 in D.C., 96-88. The Wizards beat the Knicks on February 6 in D.C., 106-96.

What’s at Stake – I’m sure there are scores of people who think winning a division is completely insignificant. But tonight the Knicks can wrap up the franchise’s first Atlantic Division title since 1994. That’s a long time ago. The last time the Knicks clinched a division title, we didn’t even know Bill Pullman as President Thomas Whitmore…YET.

I don’t think Knicks fan should be popping the champagne tonight if the Knicks grab a W, but I do think it’s an accomplishment worth noting, especially since just about zero pundits or experts had the Knicks winning the division this year. In the long run, proving people wrong with division titles ultimately means nothing, yes, and if the Knicks don’t win an NBA title this season we shouldn’t be all “But we’re hanging a 2012-13 Atlantic Division Champions banner!”

But after all the crap this franchise has been through since the post-Jeff Van Gundy era with Isiah Thomas and Stephon Marbury and Anucha Browne Sanders and Eddy Curry and everything, it would be nice to celebrate an actual basketball accomplishment, for once, even if it isn’t the ultimate prize or the main goal. I think I’m speaking mainly for the fans who never stopped watching during those black hole seasons. I’m one of them, and it SUCKED. So allow us to feel good about tangible basketball success for a little bit, at least. Thanks.

Key Matchup – The Knicks vs. John Wall – Wall is the most talented player on the Wizards and really the only guy that can wreck this game if the Knicks allow him to. With the news that Tyson Chandler is doubtful for the game because his creaky neck is all creaky again, the onus will be on the Knicks’ backcourt to try and keep Wall out of the paint, which is not an easy task. Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni and J.R. Smith will likely take turns guarding Wall, and forcing him and the Wizards into jumpshots is a good way to try and grab a victory. The Wiz are shooting just 41% from the field in road games this season, which isn’t very good. If the Knicks can hold them to around that mark, Smith and Carmelo Anthony should be able to do enough damage on the other end to grab a W.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @TurnOnTheKnicks for commentary and shenanigans during tonight’s affair.

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