Knicks-Mavericks: What to Watch For

Jeremy Lin versus the Mavs pt 2.

Two weeks ago, the Knickerbockers defeated the defending champs 104-97 in a Madison Square Garden Sunday matinee. Tonight, the ‘Bockers head into Dallas coming off a bad loss to the Celtics on ABC Sunday. Dallas has lost 5 of 6. The Knicks have been inconsistent, winning only 2 of 5 games, since the return of Carmelo Anthony. They look to get back on track against a team they match up well against.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • Tyson Chandler gets his ring. In his first game in Dallas as a member of the Knicks, center Tyson Chandler will get his championship ring from last season’s championship Mavs team. This just puts in perspective how lucky the Knicks are to have Chandler. In my opinion, Chandler represents something the Knicks haven’t known about in a long time: winning. In the past 10 years, New York has had few players who could spell championship much less win one. While the Knicks have yet to take the next step into becoming a championship contender, the acquisition of Chandler has been huge for this team. Rather than win 25 games every year, the Knicks have the opportunity to become an elite team. Tyson Chandler, the starting center on the world champions last season, is a huge part of that. I think Chandler accepting his ring tonight is going to be surreal to me in that it shows how far the Knicks have come. Sure, they have a ways to go but the Knicks have come miles from where they were in the Zeke Era and Tyson Chandler is a stark representative of that.
  • The Knicks should attack the paint tonight. In their first meeting with Dallas, the Knicks shot 78% at the rim. Oklahoma City defeated Dallas last night and they shot 66% at the rim. Overall this season, Dallas is ranked 16th in NBA defending the rim. They allow opponents to shoot 62% on average. The Knicks have a plethora of players who have the ability to finish at the rim. Dallas is a pretty strong team defending the perimeter and the Knicks are an inconsistent shooting team. They either shoot lights out or they struggle mightily. I would like to see New York attack the paint against a less athletic Dallas team.
  • Can somebody please check Dirk? In his last 6 games, including a 1 point performance in which he was injured early in the game, Dirk Nowitzki has averaged 22.6 points per game. Against the Knicks a few games back, Dirk put up 34 points on 11/20 shooting. Amar’e Stoudemire was laughably awful trying to defend Nowitzki and Iman Shumpert struggled as well. Surprisingly, JR Smith was by far the best Knick defender when it came to guarding Dirk. It will be interesting to see how the Knicks defend the finals MVP tonight.
  • How will Dallas defend Jeremy Lin? They tried Shawn Marion on Lin earlier this year and he scored 28 on 11/20 shooting. I have a hard time imagining Dallas giving 300 38 year old Jason Kidd the assignment of staying in front of the 23 year old Lin. However, thanks to Boston and Miami, the blueprint has been put out on how to slow Lin down. The Knicks point guard has struggled against quicker guards that provide constant pressure to Lin’s dribble. On paper, the Mavs don’t appear to have a kind of defender like that. The only guy who may fit that profile is Roddy Beaubois, the backup point guard. I bet that Dallas will try Beaubois on Lin tonight but I have a hard time believing that Lin will truly struggle against Beaubois. I think Lin is going to have a good game tonight because I’m not sure Dallas has a guy who can match up with him.
  • What kind of minutes will Landry Fields play tonight? He played only 15 against Boston on Sunday and appears to be losing his grip on playing time. He has fallen into a 3 game slump as of late and may start losing consistent minutes to JR Smith and Iman Shumpert. I love what Fields does but he needs to start shooting the ball better or else he is in serious jeopardy of losing his starting spot. Vince Carter is old and Jason Terry is not a great defender so Fields should have some opportunity to prove himself tonight. He lost his confidence last year and his play struggled. I’m not sure where his confidence is at right now but if he starts to become weak in the head, his play will become weaker as well.
  • I’m still tuned in Amar’e… He told everyone to “stay tuned” but I’m still curious as to what we were supposed to be waiting for. Missed one handed dunks that turn the game around in overtime? Bricks? Turnovers? What exactly did Amar’e want to show us? He has been better since the all-star break but he still hasn’t been that great. Dirk isn’t a good defender. Amar’e should find a way to score tonight but then again he should have done the same thing last time the Knicks played the Mavericks. He scored 11 points. Stay tuned…

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