Opening Statements: Wizards vs Knicks, Preseason Game 2 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Knicks, Preseason Game 2

Updated: October 9, 2015


Washington Wizards vs New York Knicks - Nov. 30, 2012

Wizards Preseason Game No. 2 is here. A chance to see that wholesale changes in Randy Wittman’s offense are not merely an aberration (they aren’t), and an opportunity to drink more from oasis waters that only recently still seemed like a mirage, and still could be.

Wittman has indicated thus far to inquiring media minds that he will test out different five-man units before the season. Grantland’s Zach Lowe is betting that Washington’s starting 4 will be Kris Humphries. And as far as potential differences go, that spot is really the only variance. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Marcin Gortat are locked in as starters. Otto Porter likely is, too.

For Wittman’s part, Humphries “scared the shit” out of him when he started popping 3s in the first quarter of preseason Game 1, as if it were some sort of plan. It was a plan. Humphries was taking what the defense gave him, but didn’t make the defense pay until he hit a couple 3s later in the game. We’ll see how his jumper, featuring feet seemingly too close together and an extension that does not brand too far from his forehead, progresses. If the face works, why Botox it? So true.

Onward the Wizards forge tonight versus the new-look/same-look New York Knicks, who will also be the home-opening opponent on All Hallow’s Eve. The Wizards last opened their home slate on Oct. 31 in 2009, that fateful, franchise-crumbling season. They beat the New Jersey Nets that night; Gilbert Arenas Halloween masks were given out to fans; he scored 32 points on 13 shots. Gilbert’s been in the news lately, ya heard?

The Knicks come to town having beaten Sunday’s opponent for Washington, Brazilian team Paschoalotto Bauru Basket, 100-81 in their first preseason game. New York actually started a large-ish lineup with Robin Lopez at 5, rookie Kristaps Porzingis at 4, Carmelo Anthony at 3, Sasha Vujacic at 2 (The Machine!! Seriously?), and Jose Calderon at 1. Nothing the Wizards can’t handle, and it shall be good for Otto Porter to matchup against Melo.

Against the Brazilians, Kevin Seraphin, ex-Wizard, scored 14 points on 11 shots in 22 minutes off the bench. He also tallied five rebounds and three turnovers. However, he has been listed as doubtful for tonight’s game with knee soreness. Bummer. But hey, there’s always Halloween.

With that said, the Internet’s Robert Silverman (@BobSaietta) has sauntered by TAI to drop some knowledge on his Knickerbockers. Enjoy.

Teams: Wizards vs. Knicks
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN, NBATV
Radio: Sure.
Spread: There are no spreads in the preseason, you junkie.

#1) Is New York… the Knicks… Carmelo ready for the life of Kevin Seraphin, #KSlife, if you will? What are the early returns on the ex-Wizard?

(Also, putting yourself in the mind of the Zen Master, what book would he give Seraphin to read?)

@BobSaietta: It’s Me7o. If nothing else, please use the proper branding nomenclature. We’ve seen about twenty minutes of pure, uncut Seraphin, and he had a nice little preseason outing, doing a lot of work in the low post, and providing a decent, non-shot-blocking deterrent at the rim. It’s going to be a seriously jam-packed front court for the ‘Bockers, what with Kyle O’Quinn and Kristaps “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” Porzingis, seeing time at center behind Robin Lopez… But in small doses, he’s a perfectly serviceable dude on a minuscule contract.

That’s a big theme for Phil Jackson’s squad this year: general competence mixed with light doses of wondrous, giddy joy-enduring, and raw as a freshly cut slab of pork tenderloin rookies. (See: Oppenheimer, Robert, above.)

My fave thing about Seraphin, though, is this media day snapshot.

Kevin Seraphin Knicks 2015 Media Day

That is some Gallic-ass mean mugging.

As far as Kevin’s reading list goes, I’m giving him my heavily underlined worn copy of George Saunders’ “Pastoralia.”

Why? Well, it’s a great effing book and Phil’s whole shtick of giving people books with A Very Serious And Important Message That Clearly Relates To Their Skills On The Court And/Or Specific Life Journey is pretentious as hell, and mainly about Phil’s own vanity/ego.

Stop doing that, Phil.

#2) What do you imagine Carmelo doing to keep his cool in yet another season where the Knicks are expected to take some licks?

@BobSaietta: [Giant Shrug Emoticon] It’s New Yorktown, Kyle. It’ll be A Thing at some point, possibly after a grindingly bleak loss to the Sixers in January. Melo can be downright befuddling with regards to his public statements. On the one hand, he’s bluntly honest, often to his own detriment. E.g. last year when he talked about having “second thoughts” about his choice to re-sign with the Knicks.

Which, duh. He’d have to be a soulless automaton not to wonder if taking his talents to the Windy City might’ve been a better choice in the midst of a 17-win season. But there’s a reason bland talking points exist, and they’re to protect athletes and politicians from a needless “controversy.”

I wrote a whole bunch of words about this at VICE Sports last February, if you really want to delve. I mention his fancy hats too.

Beyond the tabloid stuff, I do think there’s a non-zero chance that Melo puts forth his best season as a pro. I think that’ll keep him happy. If they do stink up the joint again, then yes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the trade winds kick up.

#3) New York will challenge for a playoff spot if…?

@BobSaietta: That’s a whole lot of ifs. Where to begin…

  • Carmelo suits up for 70-plus games.
  • Robin Lopez can anchor what was an execrable defense last year and snaggle bushelfuls of rebounds.
  • Jerian Grant proves capable of being a starter or first guard off the bench, and quickly too.
  • Arron Afflalo rebounds from a craptastic stint in Denver and Portland, and his gammy hamstring heals up right quick.
  • The perimeter defense as a whole takes a giant leap forward. That means more minutes for Langston Galloway, Grant, and a wing defender TBD, possibly Cleanthony Early or even Thanasis Antetokounmpo. The Knicks were terrible at defending the 3 and stopping dribble penetration. That was partly by design. Derek Fisher seemed to favor packing the paint at all costs, even if it meant treys raining down like manna from heaven. Ditching J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. is a step in the right direction.
  • They can figure out an offense that’s able to expand beyond the pure, holy tenets of the triangle. We saw this more and more towards the end of last season, when Derek Fisher started sprinkling in more pick-and-roll sets, especially to harness the talents of (sniff) the greatest Knick in history, Alexey Shved. (Yes, I am still sad Shved went back to Russia. It is bad and wrong.)

Is that a lot of things that need to go right? Hell yeah. I think they’ll struggle early on and start to get their legs in February. They’ll probably top off at somewhere between 30 and 35 wins. But you know what? That’d be a helluva year. An 18-win improvement is incredibly rare, as Jared Dubin pointed out in June, only 10 of the 55 teams that finished with 14-20 wins managed to pull off that feat.

So yeah, I’m kind of optimistic!

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.