With the playoffs in sight, the surging New York Knicks face the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
The Knicks (50-26) are officially on a roll. Their 125-120 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday at Chesapeake Energy Arena was their 12th consecutive win.
Carmelo Anthony has simply been on fire. The NBA's second-leading scorer dropped 36 points on 15-of-29 shooting against the Thunder while also grabbing 12 rebounds. He's scored 21 points or more in his last 11 games. He dropped at least 40 points in each of his previous three games before Sunday's clash, including 50 points against the Miami Heat on April 2.
Following Sunday's game, the Knicks rank 17th in the NBA in field-goal percentage but third in offensive efficiency, per TeamRankings.com. A large part of that had to do with the fact that they ranked first in turnover rate and sixth in three-point percentage. They committed just six turnovers against the Thunder, while going 15-of-34 from downtown.
The Knicks rank near the middle of the league in opponents' field-goal percentage and defensive efficiency, but one thing they are very good at is crashing the glass on defense. They rank third in defensive-rebounding percentage.
As for the Wizards, they are 29-48 this season, but they've gone 24-20 since point guard John Wall returned from injury. They've been a very streaky team lately, with multiple strings of winning streaks and losing streaks since Wall returned.
Washington fell behind early against the Boston Celtics on Sunday and never was able to fully recover. The Wizards uncharacteristically allowed the Celtics to shoot 56 percent from the floor en route to a 107-96 loss.
Wall was averaging 18.0 points, 7.6 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 45 percent from the floor headed into Sunday's clash with the Celtics. He finished with 16 points and 10 assists at TD Garden.
Interestingly enough, despite Wall's return, the Wizards still entered Sunday's game against the Celtics 29th in the league in field-goal percentage and 30th in offensive efficiency.
They've actually been a much better defensive team overall this season, ranked third in opponents' field-goal percentage and sixth in defensive efficiency. They had even improved in those areas in their previous three games before the matchup against the Celtics.
Who will win on Tuesday?
The Knicks are 2-1 against the Wizards this season. That includes a 96-88 victory on March 1 that saw Anthony and point guard Raymond Felton combine for 53 points.
Wall (16 points) and backcourt mate Bradley Beal (29 points) combined for 45 points in that game, but Chris Singleton went 0-of-6 and Washington's bench struggled beyond Trevor Ariza.
It's hard to imagine the Wizards defeating the Knicks on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden. They don't have the offense to keep up with Carmelo Anthony and company and they are a poor offensive rebounding team. That's not to mention the defense hit a wall at TD Garden.
Prediction: Knicks 105, Wizards 90