Four-Pointer: Previewing the New York Knicks

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

The New York Knicks are playing better after the return of Carmelo Anthony. What must the Dallas Mavericks do to cool the suddenly hot Knickerbockers?

What have the Knicks done lately?

OMG, like LOL!

Joking aside, New York comes into Dallas to complete the Texas Triangle. On Thursday, the Knicks were in San Antonio to play the Spurs. Though the Knicks have struggled recently, they did get Carmelo Anthony back from injury for the game. Injuries have hampered, if not completely decimated, New York and getting Melo back certainly benefits their offense greatly.

That was the case against the Spurs. Melo scored 27 points on 50 percent shooting. He made two of his four 3-point attempts and also grabbed 12 rebounds. Anthony's return helped fuel the Knicks to a 105-101 victory. Hitting 18 of their 20 free throws also helped among other things.

The following night, the Knicks were hosted by the Houston Rockets. Again, the Knicks were up to the task and played the Rockets tough. Anthony was again the go-to player for New York with a usage percentage of 31. Again, he was efficient, scoring 25 points on 23 shots. However, the end result was not the same as the previous night. The Knicks lost, 102-100. Poor clock management by J.R. Smith being one of the root causes of the loss.

Aside from these two games, the Knicks have tortured their fans.

New York has also been the subject of rumors this weekend. Those rumors should be ignored, though, because Broussard.

What player might surprise you about the Knicks?

Iman Shumpert has been stellar on this road trip. Shumpert scored 27 points against the Spurs, hitting 76.9 percent of his shots including 6-8 from downtown. Against the Rockets, Shumpert paced the team scoring 26 points on 64.3 shooting and hit all six of his 3-point attempts. He as simply caught fire.

He has a combined offensive rating of 176.5 in those games. That is insane.

What are New York's biggest strength and weakness?

Obviously, the Knicks's biggest strength is their offense. On paper, New York's offense is not as imposing as it was last season, significantly so, ranking 25th at 95.2 points per game. However, as they have proved over the last two games, they can get hot. With Melo back and Shumpert activating season savior mode, this is a dangerous team. J.R. Smith, despite his poor tendencies, can also score in droves.

That said, the Knicks play atrocious defense. They have the 27th ranked defensive rating at 109. New York also allows their opponents to connect on 52.1 percent of their effective field goals. Beyond statistics, they simply cannot keep their man in front of them. As Seth Rosenthal points out in our Q&A today, the perimeter players often let their man go by them and rely on Tyson Chandler to pick up the slack. Frankly, there is a lot of slack.

What do the Mavs need to do to be successful against the Kicks?

The Mavericks need to execute their offense and do it well. Dallas has one of the best offenses in the league and they need to play like it. New York gives their opponents far too many opportunities to score and the Mavs need to take advantage of every chance they are given.

Dallas was poised to upset the Clippers on Friday night before yet another late game collapse. It would behoove the Mavs to not have one of those again. The team has shown flashes of coherent defense of late but it has never been a sustained effort. They need a sustained, or at least timely, effort tonight to hold off any push by New York. With the way the Knicks have been playing, there will be a push.

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