New-Look Knickerbockers (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
After some uncertainty and uncharacteristic wintry weather in Dallas, the Mavericks made their way up to New York City last night. This morning at shootaround, they appeared to be in good spirits as they prepared to take on the Amar’e Stoud… I mean the New York Knicks. The last time these two teams met in The Garden, Dallas handed New York a 50-point loss, their worst loss at home in franchise history. Two months later, the Knicks avenged their loss in Dallas by defeating the Mavericks by 34.
When I asked Rick what he expected the match-up to be like this time around, taking the drastic roster changes for both teams into consideration, he told me, "they’re a completely different team now, and (Amar’e) Stoudemire has changed so much for them, (Raymond) Felton has added so much, (Landry) Fields, you go right down the list. They’re vastly different. They’re having a great year, their depth is superior to what it was last year."
Currently, the Mavericks have Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi on tap to take on the dominant Knicks big man. Stoudemire is leading his team in both scoring and rebounding, and just as he did in Phoenix, he will provide a challenge for all the Dallas bigs in the paint.
With one Maverick out for the season and two more sitting out the road trip, the Mavericks have few guys to work with, but plenty of different ways to play them. When asked about the varying starting line-ups, Carlisle seemed upbeat. "I like the challenge," he said. "I’ve been through 31 starting line-ups in the brawl year so this really is nothing compared to that. We got 11 guys here for this week, and with these guys we gotta find a way to win games."
When I questioned the Mavericks apparent inability to play an entire game of solid basketball, Rick told me, "we’re striving and searching for consistency, and we’re not unlike the other 29 teams. On a game-to-game basis, it’s not always going to be the same." I mentioned the tendency to either start strong and then allow the other teams to creep back, or start weak and have to climb out of a deficit, and Carlisle said, "strong starts are something that we prioritized this year, we’ve been much better on the whole this year. But the last three weeks we’ve had some rough starts. Tonight we want to get off to a good one if we can."
Tip-off will be at 6:40pm CT.