Our Dallas Mavericks (4-1) look to continue their winning streak against the last undefeated team in the NBA: The New York Knicks (3-0). Friday is game one of a back to back (Saturday night's game is against the Bobcats!). After having faced three opponents with less talented rosters, a veteran New York squad will put the injury depleted Mavericks to the test.
After suffering a 4-1 playoff defeat from the Miami Heat, the Knicks had a headline grabbing off season, despite mostly making small moves around the edges of their roster. The Houston Rockets signed sensation Jeremy Lin to a 3 year back loaded contract, which the Knicks decided not to match. Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas were acquired from Portland for Jared Jeffries. J.R. Smith resigned. Steve Novak resigned. We all know Jason Kidd walked back on a handshake deal with Mark Cuban to sign with the Knicks. Thirty-five year old Pablo Prigioni from Argentina became the oldest NBA rookie ever when he became a Knick this off-season. Heck, even Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are Knicks!
The Knicks obviously bring back all universe forward Carmelo Anthony and reigning defensive player of the year Tyson Chander. Despite having a roster seemingly built to dominate the NBA in 2007, the Knicks have started out firing on all cylinders, beating the Heat once and the 76ers twice, with a 16 point average margin of victory. Similar to Dallas, hot shooting from deep has kept all the games comfortable for New York.
How do the Mavs look against a veteran New York squad? Despite the injuries, I'd say they match up reasonably well. The Mav depth at the guard position should wear down the Knicks back court over time. Collison can push the pace on Felton. If the Knicks actually continue with Jason Kidd at shooting guard, Mayo should be just fine, though the inevitable substitution for J.R. Smith makes that match up much more interesting. Kaman or Wright on Chandler is going to be a big challenge, particularly with the Mavs troubles giving up offensive rebounds. The main issue for Dallas is going to be keeping Carmelo Anthony in check. With Shawn Marion out, there is really no Mav capable of matching up with Carmelo when the Knicks are on offensive. Crowder is apparently getting the early assignment on Anthony, but I expect the Dallas coaching staff to give Anthony a variety of looks throughout the game. Anthony has been playing the power forward role, but if Crowder is sticking anthony, that leaves Brand trying to cover Ronnie Brewer, I guess. The matchups are going to be really interesting.
Dallas must push the pace against this older Knicks squad. With Iman Shumpert out recovering from his ACL injury, the Knicks are thin and, honestly, old, at the guard positions. Getting any of the Knicks top rotation guards into foul trouble early will cause problems for their rotation. Rebounding is a huge concern; the Knicks, who have a variety of big men who can rebound the ball well. A win tonight would be fantastic, but should not be expected. Look for a hard fought game, one that could be the closest one Dallas has played since the season opener. What do you want to see from the guys tonight?
Look for a Q&A with SBNation Knick's blog Posting and Toasting around 12:30pm CST.