Knicks-Mavericks: What to Watch For

The Knicks enter Sunday’s matinee matchup against Dallas coming off their first loss in almost two weeks. The Knicks faltered badly friday at Madison Square Garden against the Hornets and look to start another winning streak on Sunday against the defending world champions. The 20-11 Dallas Mavericks come into the world’s most famous arena riding a 6 game winning streak. For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony will sit out but JR Smith and Baron Davis could potentially make their Knick debuts. Linsanity died down in the media after the Knicks disappointing Friday “performance” but that may end up being a good thing for the Knicks young point guard. Jeremy Lin even admitted in his post game interview that the media has been a bit overwhelming at times. I think Lin will come out and play well today and I expect this to be a hell of a game.

Here’s what to watch for:

  • JR Smith and Baron Davis are expected to play. In yet another mid-season talent infusion, the Knicks will begin incorporating new players into their system. Point guard Baron Davis, who has sat out all year with a herniated disk in his back, and shooting guard JR Smith, who’s brain is often herniated, are expected to suit up and play. Both players will come off the bench and will start out playing spot minutes. Davis’ production and health will be key to the Knicks success moving forward. Jeremy Lin has been spectacular but you can see him wearing down more and more every game. Due to the Knicks lack of competent point guards not named Jeremy Lin, the Knick starter has been forced to play an average of 37.5 minutes over his past 5 games. Davis should be able to get in there and make an impact when Lin needs a break. His potential to give starter caliber minutes coming off the bench could really solidify the Knicks backcourt. Another member of the backcourt, shooting guard JR Smith, is expected to make an impact. Billy “Chuck” Walker sucking every game in absence of Melo has been incredibly frustrating and unproductive. Walker can now be replaced by the explosive JR Smith. Tomorrow, Walker will still start in place of Carmelo Anthony but when Melo gets back Chucky’s minutes are going to drop. Smith plays the 2/3 wing position just like Walker but he is far more talented. So far this year, the Knicks “bench” has ranked 26th in the NBA in bench scoring. They had a game in which the bench scored 4 points. This bench has sucked. JR Smith gives them an explosive scorer that they did not previously have. How much of an impact will these players have tomorrow? Who knows. I do not expect either player to play major minutes but that does not mean they won’t have an impact. I am interested to see how mobile Davis looks with his bad back and I want to see what kind of shape JR Smith is in. He has been playing in China but this faster paced Lin-powered offense should give us a good idea of how truly in shape Smith is. Obviously it will take both players multiple games to work out the cinks (SEE ESPN. NO ‘H’) of adjusting to a new system but I expect both players to make a great impact. Bill Walker ladies and gentlemen:
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  • Tyson Chandler should be hyped for this game. Yes, I actually just said hyped in a blog post. I think Chandler is going to be fired up and ready to go today against his former team. The Knicks center has been nothing short of amazing this year and I expect him to play great against the Mavs. Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahimi are a formidable interior defensive duo but I think Chandler will find lanes on the pick and roll to slam a couple alley oops. It should be fun to watch.
  • Hey Amar’e, can we get some defense? On Friday, Amar’e Stoudemire’s performance defensively was… well… it was pathetic, lazy and flat out disgusting. Gustavo Ayon continually schooled the Knicks max-contract star and finished the game with a double-double. Today, Stoudemire faces the tandem of Dirk Nowitzki and Lamar Odom. They are just a bit better than Gustavo Ayon. The Knicks need optimal defensive effort from Stoudemire. They stand no chance if Amar’e is giving up baskets every other possession. I think Jeffries will be featured a lot in this game in that he is long enough and athletic enough to stay with and potentially bother both Nowitzki and Kardashian Odom. You wanna hear Lamar Odom crying? It’s pretty funny actually.
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  • I want to see Bibby get in against Jason Kidd. Not because it will give the Knicks any advantages, rather they’ll probably be disadvantaged, but because it would be comical to see two 400 year old point guards running around the court.
  • Jeremy Lin should have an advantage. There have been multiple reports saying that the Mavericks plan to use Shawn Marion to guard the Knicks young point guard. I imagine at times, Lin will be matched up against Jason Kidd who is 380 38 years old. If Lin is on his game, his swirling dervish style of play should reign superior over the Mavericks defensive efforts. I think this can be a game in which Lin scores 25-30 points. ┬áDallas is a solid defensive team but they are no longer the defensive caliber team that won the NBA championship last season. I think the Knicks should be able to take advantage of Dirk on the pick and roll. I think the Knicks can beat the Mavericks with their athleticism cutting into the lane and spreading the floor. While the Knicks are one of the strongest rebounding teams in the league, Dallas is very mediocre. I think the Knicks, if they put in the effort (YES AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE I AM SPEAKING TO YOU!), can get some second chance points cleaning up the offensive glass. Lin needs to get to the rim and finish. When he doesn’t finish, the Knicks should be able to clean up pretty nicely on the glass. That is simple basketball 101. Lets see if the Knicks can execute.
  • Hey Knicks, can we get some three point shooting? The Knicks 3 point shooting sucks. They are ranked 29th in the league at 3 point shooting percentage (29.9%) while Dallas is also ranked in the bottom half of the league at 18th (32.9%). On Friday, the Knicks lost to New Orleans by 4 points in a game where they shot 4/24 from beyond the arc. 4/24 is absolutely abysmal and unacceptable. If the Knicks are able to have some success shooting the 3 ball, they should have a good chance to win. If they shoot 17% from downtown, there is a good chance they will lose. This is not New Orleans or the Kings or the Wizards. The Mavs are the defending champs and they are hot right now. Bad 3 point shooting won’t get it done. The Knicks need to hit the 3 ball and they need to execute the offense today.
  • Jeremy Lin’s high school coach will be sitting court side. The man who coached Lin at Palo Alto High School, Peter Diepenbrock, will be sitting with Spike Lee during the game. Spike will wear Lin’s high school jersey, as he did on Friday (pictured above). As much as I love the jersey, I have to say that his outfit was almost as ugly as Drew Gooden’s braided beard. I can’t wait to see if Spike will pull out hot pink under armor, a Hue Hefner smoking jacket or maybe a nice meat suit to go along with Lin’s jersey. Spike’s outfits over the years only seem to get more flamboyant and asinine. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.
  • Why the hell would you wear that hat??
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