Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Knicks at Dallas Mavericks - What To Watch For

Tonight at 8:30 the Knicks take on the Dallas Mavericks on the road to complete the season series with the defending champions. Coming off a loss to the Boston Celtics, the Knicks will look to rebound and go back to .500 against a Dallas team that lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder just last night.

These two teams met just over two weeks ago in the Garden in what resulted in perhaps the Knicks' most impressive victory of the season. Minus Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks were led by perhaps Jeremy Lin's most impressive game of his career - 28 points and 14 assists. The Knicks also received a spark from J.R. Smith in his debut off the bench, and Steve Novak poured in some 4th quarter 3-pointers to take the game for the Knicks.

But things have changed since then, so take the jump for some notes on what to watch tonight!

Despite all of the good feelings about the Knicks' newfound depth, their crazysexycool point guard rotation, and general team health, they're only 3-4 since the Linsane seven-game win streak came to a halt. They let one slip in Boston after being up by double digits in the first half, and then let Paul Pierce dig his teeth in when the Knicks were up three in the waning seconds of the game. Despite a gritty fight, the Knicks lost in overtime.

The Mavericks meanwhile, entered the MSG riding a hot streak two weeks ago, but have been anything since, going 2-5 since the loss to the Knicks. They're a bit short-handed right now as their starting center, Brendan Haywood is out with a sprained ankle. The Knicks should look to take advantage of a tired, injured team on the second night of a back-to-back.

  • Tonight Tyson Chandler will be presented with his championship ring that he earned with the Mavericks last season. One, that's just cool and symbolizes where this Knicks team wants to go. However, it may be important as Chandler might look to show up his old team and their fans since they let him go nary an offer. Of course, his pursuit of dominance may be slightly hindered by that nagging wrist, so we'll have to wait and see.
  • This is not to say that the Knicks are an indefensible offense - far from it. What I'm wondering is how the Knicks will defend Jeremy Lin and Carmelo Anthony together. Since Melo was out last game, the Mavericks put Shawn Marion on Lin and trapped him quite hard on every screen, not that that bothered him much. Jason Kidd is certainly still a capable defender even in the AARP stage of his career, but Lin wins the speed battle there. Assuming Marion guards Anthony, it will be interesting to see how the Mavericks defend Lin since they were pretty unsuccessful last time.
  • Perhaps this is a bit premature, but in the last three games the Knicks played (Miami, Cleveland, and Boston), Lin has put up stinkers in two of them. The Heat and Celtics both played pestering, physical defense on Jeremy and forced some bad turnovers and rushed shots from him. Has Jeremy Lin hit an (understandable) wall, is he in the midst of a slump, or has he already moved on from some of his woeful ways?
  • Landry Fields will maintain his starting spot for now, but D'Antoni has been pretty quick on the trigger to insert J.R. Smith and/or Iman Shumpert off the bench. Fields has looked tentative and ill-fitting the last two games, and while J.R. Smith hasn't been much better, he is more of a threat to heat up, and Shumpert has been flat-out fantastic the last tow games, returning from his knee injury. Fields starts the games, but who closes them?

That's it, folks! Remember, game time is at 8:30 tonight, so be ready with snacks, drinks, whichever viewing technology you use, and get any pregame rituals you have like clipping your toenails or plucking your chest hairs out of the way! Run-on sentences! Go Knicks!

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