John Wall is finally going to get his first taste of the postseason in his fourth season.
All Carmelo Anthony has known since he came into the NBA is going to the playoffs.
Wall looks to lead the Washington Wizards to the franchise’s first season sweep over New York in almost 30 years when they face Anthony’s Knicks on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
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Washington (39-36) crushed Boston 118-92 on Wednesday at home to clinch its first playoff spot since 2008. Wall, the top pick in the 2010 draft, has been a key part of that as a first-time All-Star averaging a team-high 19.8 points.
”It’s everything I’ve been waiting for,” Wall said, ”as being a point guard, and trying to learn how to lead in this league, and become a better player. But also I think the fans deserve it. I mean, the tough times they’ve been through, booing us and us feeling bad when we’re not playing good or playing the right way.”
Anthony has reached the postseason in each of his first 10 seasons but extending that streak in 2013-14 is proving to be a major challenge. His Knicks have won 12 of 15 to move percentage points ahead of Atlanta for the Eastern Conference’s eighth playoff spot.
”We want to get there. That’s the goal,” Anthony said. ”Despite this emotional season, this up-and-down season, I think it would be a big deal to get in that spot.”
New York (33-43) showed no effects of fatigue in its first home game after a 3-2 Western Conference trip with Wednesday’s 110-81 rout of Brooklyn. The Knicks shot 60.0 percent for their highest mark in two seasons.
”Our guys are hungry,” coach Mike Woodson said. ”Normally anybody that comes off the West Coast, when you’ve been out there for a while, that game coming back is normally a tough game, but our guys came out with energy and came out ready to play.”
The contest against the Nets began a seven-game stretch to close the season against East teams that have already clinched playoff berths.
The Wizards were thrilled to join that group after shooting 62.5 percent against the Celtics for their highest mark in a victory since finishing at 62.9 in a 122-108 win at Boston on April 10, 1996.
”We’re still learning the process of what it takes to be a really good team,” said Randy Wittman, who is in the playoffs for the first time as a head coach. ”But I couldn’t be more happy for those guys.”
A season of milestones for Wall included his first professional victory at MSG as Washington won 102-101 on Dec. 16. Bradley Beal’s driving layup with 6 seconds left was the difference and Anthony missed a 3-pointer as time expired as the Knicks’ 10-game home win streak in this series ended.
Anthony scored 32 in that game while Wall finished with 20. The Wizards star had 31 points and seven assists in a 98-89 home victory Nov. 23, in which Anthony had 23 points and 12 boards.
Washington hasn’t swept the season series since winning all six meetings in 1984-85.
The Knicks haven’t had point guard Raymond Felton available for both meetings. Felton went to the locker room early in the third quarter Wednesday with bruised ribs after a hard fall, but returned and said he would play Friday.