John Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and the Washington Wizards take on Tim Hardaway Jr., Enes Kanter, Mitchell Robinson and the New York Knicks. Tipoff is at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
Here are three things to watch...
Opportunity to bounce back
The Wizards are reeling right now. They have lost five straight games and their defense has so far been historically inept. Their last three losses have been by double-digits, including on Friday when they were obliterated by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Wizards need to turn things around and on Sunday they will get a decent chance to do so. They are playing at home against the Knicks, who at 3-6 are one of the worst teams in the NBA. Their best player, Kristaps Porzingis, is hurt, which has left them average at best on both ends of the floor.
The Wizards are clearly the more talented team on-paper, though that has not translated into wins for Washington as often as it should over the past two seasons. They should win this game and handily, but of course they will probably make it much more interesting than that.
In the Wizards' defense, they did take two of three against the Knicks last season, despite having major trouble against sub-.500 teams. And their only loss was when John Wall was hurt.
Game 2 for Howard
The Wizards were blown out by the Thunder on Friday despite the fact they were healthy for the first time all season. Starting center Dwight Howard returned from his piriformis muscle strain and played quite well, at least on the offensive end. He had 20 points in 23 minutes and shot 7-for-8 from the field.
Howard did all of that against Steven Adams, an above-average center. Against the Knicks, he will go up against Enes Kanter. Though not as good as Adams, Kanter is a talented player who is particularly good on the boards. That's an area Howard could improve upon from his debut when he only grabbed three rebounds.
Here is a stat to keep in mind for Sunday night's game. The Knicks are No. 1 in the NBA in fastbreak defense so far, allowing only 9.6 transition points per game. They have also scored the third-fewest fastbreak points themselves, just 8.9 per game.
The Wizards, on the other hand, are fifth in fastbreak points, despite Wall's early season struggles and their inability to finish defensive stops with rebounds. And, they are giving up the third-most fastbreak points of any team at 18.8 per contest.
The Knicks have been playing slow, while the Wizards have been playing fast. That holds true as measured by pace factor as well. The Wizards are eighth in the NBA at 104 possessions per 48 minutes, while the Knicks are 24th at 98.7. Who will budge?
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