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Good things continue to happen for both the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks and they’ll try to continue those trends when they collide Friday night at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Wizards beat the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night to clinch their first postseason berth since 2008, while a couple hundred miles to the northeast the Knicks were blowing out the Brooklyn Nets to slip ahead of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
There’s still much work to be done on both sides, as the Knicks remain a game back of Atlanta in the loss column and the Wizards still have a chance to catch the fifth-place Nets and possibly open the playoffs against a Chicago Bulls club they’ve defeated twice this season. The Knicks were 21-40 following a loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons on March 3 and the playoffs seemed like a longshot at the time, but they’ve gone 12-3 since, including three straight wins entering Friday. Carmelo Anthony continues to put up good numbers for New York and J.R. Smith has come on strong lately as well, averaging 18.9 points in the last seven games to boost his average to 13.7.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), MSG (New York)
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (39-36). Washington beat the Knicks in both previous meetings this season but the teams haven’t met since Dec. 16, when Bradley Beal made a game-winning layup with six seconds remaining in the 102-101 victory at Madison Square Garden. Martell Webster scored a season-high 30 points in that win, but hasn’t scored more than 18 since. John Wall remains the most consistent player for the Wizards, averaging between 19.1 and 21.7 points in each of the five full months of this season.
ABOUT THE KNICKS (33-43): New York will likely need a bigger game from starting point guard Raymond Felton than it's received lately. He’ll be up against Wall most of the night and that can be tiring just to think about. Felton is averaging only six points on 37.9 percent shooting in the last five games. He missed both previous games against the Wizards this season, the first with a strained lower back and the second with a sore left hamstring, so it will be interesting if he makes a difference.
1. The Hawks own the tiebreaker over the Knicks with a better conference record (22-22) and the Hawks have eight conference games remaining and the Knicks' six.
2. Prior to beating New York in the last meeting, the Wizards had lost 10 straight inside Madison Square Garden.
3. Wall came into Wednesday’s game against the Celtics with more touches than any player in the NBA (7,036).
PREDICTION: Knicks 97, Wizards 94