Game Day Preview: Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks
By Jay Knodell
The Dallas Mavericks will try to build on a win in Denver and stay in the thick of the playoff race when they host the New York Knicks. Here’s what to know.
The Dallas Mavericks collected a much needed win their last time out, a 97-88 win in Denver, and have a chance to build on it with a match up against the struggling New York Knicks.
New York has lost five of their last seven games, their two wins coming in back-to-back meetings against the reeling Chicago Bulls. The Knicks are firmly out of playoff contention, but that doesn’t mean they will just lay down for Dallas. The team has the type of talent in Carmelo Anthony and rookie Kristaps Porzingis to explode offensively on any given night, and Robin Lopez isn’t going to stop hustling just because the season is winding down.
Deron Williams remains sidelined for the Mavericks as he attempts to nurse an abdominal injury back to health, and Dallas will need J.J. Barea to continue picking up the slack. He’s scored 15.2 points on 48.5% shooting from the field and 43% accuracy from long range in his last five games. Barea has also averaged over five assists in that span.
Here are some other players to keep an eye on, and some numbers to know ahead of tonight’s game.
Players to Watch
Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t been his usual efficient self these last few games. He’s gone 10-27 from the floor in his last two contests, including a 4-17 night against the Nuggets. But with the injuries for Williams and Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks will lean on Nowitzki more than ever as they attempt to remain a playoff team. Perhaps a meeting with the kid dubbed the “Next Nowitzki” will be enough to get the 37-year old out of his shooting slump. Dirk dropped 25 points on 50% shooting in the first match up earlier this season. Dallas will likely need something along those lines against New York, as it’s doubtful the team can survive another poor shooting night from their star.
Kristaps Porzingis is definitely worth enjoying, but the guy Dallas needs to be most concerned with is Carmelo Anthony. Anthony is averaging career-highs in rebounds (8.0) and assists (4.3) this season for the Knicks, and though his scoring has taken a dip, he’s as dangerous as ever. If he gets hot, watch out.
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The Mavericks will likely throw Wesley Matthews at Anthony, who has the strength to body Melo, but lacks the height and length to really bother his jump shot. It’s a tough matchup for Wes, and he’ll need help from his teammates to force Melo into tough shots.
Numbers to Know
Speaking of Matthews, his roller coaster of a season is currently at one of its peaks. In his last five games Matthews has averaged 17.8 points and has shot better than 53% from three-point territory. With injuries to two of the team’s top scorers, Wes’ offensive production could not have come at a better time. Dallas will probably need another good night from Matthews.
The New York Knicks are again one of the worst teams in the entire league. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one is that they just don’t force their opponents into mistakes. New York is dead last in opponent turnovers at 11.3 a game. The Mavericks take better care of the ball than just about everyone, currently sitting in second-place while committing just 12.3 turnovers a game.
Dallas turned it over just four times against the Nuggets. If the Mavericks can steer clear of mental mistakes and avoid coughing it up, they’ll have a great shot at their first back-to-back win since March 1st.