The Dallas Mavericks (21-46) are set to face off with the New York Knicks (24-43) at the illustrious Madison Square Garden for the only time this season. The Mavericks’ tank has slowed down as of late and rolls into the Big Apple having won two of the last three battles. The Knicks, on the other hand, have their tank running at optimum speed, losing 15 of their last 16 games, including hiccups against the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings.
The Knicks haven’t mathematically been eliminated from the playoffs, so they could potentially be looking for a springboard game to a Cinderella story postseason run. And the Mavs will play J.J. Barea until his bones turn to powder, fighting and clawing for every win. So, don’t discount the dogs in the fight just yet…
If there’s one thing the Knicks do well, it’s crashing the offensive glass. As a team, New York gathers 24 percent of the offensive rebounds, good for fifth best in the NBA. In turn, the Knicks score 13.7 second chance points per game, maximizing most of those extra possession. If the Mavs want to keep the Knicks off the glass, it starts with getting a body on Enes Kanter, who averages nearly four offensive rebounds per game (fourth best in the NBA). Fortunately, the Mavs give up the fifth fewest offensive rebounds per game. Either way, something will have to give, and it could go a long way in deciding the game.
Toward the end of the first quarter, and maybe at the beginning of the second, watch for Rick Carlisle’s substitutions, and keep on eye out for when J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Doug McDermott, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Powell share the floor together. In 84 minutes, this group has an offensive rating of 126.7 and a defensive rating of 102.7. Gets out calculator. Crunches numbers. Yep, thats a team-high 24 net rating.
This lineup is rolling for the Mavs right now, and there’s probably a few reasons. With Barea’s floor command, Powell’s floor verticality, Dirk’s gravity and now, McDermott’s range, these guys are hard to defend and put the pressure on the opposing team’s bench every night. Don’t be surprised to see these guys make a substantial run tonight.
Speaking of McDermott…
There’s nothing I want more in the Mavericks’ 68th game of the season than a Dougie McBuckets revenge game. This will be the first time McDermott has faced the Knicks since being traded February 8 in a three-team deal that also sent Emmanuel Mudiay to the New York and Devin Harris to the Denver Nuggets. In his 12 games as a Maverick, McDermott has averaged 10 points and three rebounds while shooting 47 percent from the field and 54 percent from deep. He’s had a seamless transition into Carlisle’s offense, and I fully expect him to drop a 40 burger against his former team.
Okay, not really. But a nice double-digit scoring effort would be nice to see.
How to watch
The game tips off at 6:30 CST and can be watched locally on FSSW or out-of-market on NBA League pass.