Earlier this month we learned the Wizards entire slate of games for the upcoming 2013-14 season and highlighted a few of the schedule's notable matchups. Now we go a bit deeper by counting down the 10 most interesting contests.
Game No. 10: Wizards at Bobcats, January 7
Game No. 9: Wizards vs. Kings, February 9
Game No. 8: Wizards vs. Knicks, November 23
The interest: There is no need to gin up rationale for wanting to see a New York basketball team. That's especially true when this version stars Baltimore's favorite son Carmelo Anthony - a possible free agent in 2014 - and remains an Eastern Conference title contender. The atmosphere will have a big game vibe as the Knicks always have a healthy chunk of the crowd support wearing orange and blue. Another reason this particular contest could have additional significance is where it falls on the Wizards' schedule. Washington opens the season playing eight of 12 games on the road, including the two before the Knicks visit. Considering the Wizards' struggles away from the Verizon Center last season, John Wall and crew could be in need of a victory. This game also kicks off a stretch where the Wizards play 12 of 13 against 2013 playoff teams. Picking up a victory against the Knicks could slow any early season concerns while jump-starting the squad against a seemingly never-ending run of challenging foes. Washington's lone win over New York last season in four games came at home.
The Knicks: It all starts with Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer last season with 28.7 points per game. Where it goes from there is the question. The streaky J.R. Smith rocked during the regular season, but his game rolled south in the postseason. Tyson Chandler went from difference maker to just a contributor. Injuries played a factor for the center, just as they did for power forward Amar'e Stoudamire. The Knicks have yet to find an effective way to play him with Anthony, who spends more and more time as a stretch-four. While others in the East made significant additions (Nets) or are expecting a major boost from one of their own coming back from injury (Bulls), it's unclear if the Knicks improved their roster and in turn their title chances. Andrea Bargnani is a career 15 points per game scorer, but injuries limited the 7-footer to 35 games last season with the Raptors. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2006 draft has certainly never lived up to that lofty status. Metta World Peace remains a viable defensive presence and is great fun for the social media, but he's limited physically.
The stat: In 20 career games against the Wizards, Anthony is averaging 27.6 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent on 3's. In nine games against the Knicks, Wall is averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 assists. He is 1 for 11 (9.1 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
The matchup: Known for their long ball approach, the Knicks attempted (30.3) and made (12.3) the second-most 3-point field goals of any opponent against the Wizards last season. Washington finished top-10 overall defending the 3-point arc, but New York's 40 percent clip from distance trumped its overall season-high. Meanwhile, the Wizards sank 42.1 percent of their 3-point attempts led by Bradley Beal (6 for 12 in two games).