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3 things as the Mavericks try to put the Knicks back under .500 where they belong

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Abolish the Eastern Conference

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Last season was Kristaps Porzingis’ first full season with Dallas, and with it came two games against his former team, the New York Knicks. And not only would he be playing them twice, but twice in the same week - something fairly odd at the time, before covid-related scheduling has seen more 2-game series in the interest of less travel.

The Mavericks were playoff hopefuls and the Knicks were, well, not. Dallas was 5-3 in the young season, and the Knicks were off to a typically Knickian start at 2-7. However, one week and two match ups later, the Mavericks were a mediocre 6-6 and the Knicks were, well, worse at 4-10, but Knicks fans rejoiced in their season sweep of the Mavs and Hero turned Heel, Kristaps Porzingis. Unbearable.

There’s no way to undo getting swept in your first two games against your former team - one you left not without a certain level of acrimony. However, the story is different this year. The Knicks are suddenly playoff bound and the city and it’s fans are positively jubilant at the prospect of a team playing .500 basketball in February, hitting 17-17 after a win against the Pacers on February 27th. There was literal dancing in the streets. Complete strangers caught up in celebration.

Well.

It’s time to send them back.

New York did briefly fall below .500 for a game following a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in mid-March, but quickly rebounded. With any luck, perhaps a loss to the hated Dallas Mavericks can send them into a spiral of self-hatred that will permanently send them back to the basement of the East where they’ve made their home for so long.

Now would be the time, Kristaps

Kristaps Porzingis has been playing well for quite a while now. He can be counted on to consistently be a number two scorer and even seems to have found the defensive, rim-protecting swagger that earned him the “Unicorn” nickname in the first place.

But against the Knicks? He shouldn’t be looking for a good game. He should want to have a great game. A dominant game. The kind of games he’s had this year against Minnesota (27 points on 10-19 shooting with 5 blocks) or Denver (25 points while going 5-7 from three and 3 blocks). Not only would it go a long way to ensuring the team doesn’t repeat last season’s debacle, it’ll make Knicks fans super mad, which is a good time for everyone.

Shock and Awe then Sit and Rest

Beyond looking for a big night from Porzingis, it would be great for the team as a whole if this thing were wrapped up at halftime with the Mavericks on the first leg of a back-to-back.

Dallas has a sorry 2-6 record this year on the second game of back to backs, including some truly painful losses to teams like OKC. The company line this season has been to rest one or both of Porzingis and Luka Doncic on back to back games, but perhaps if their minutes stay low in a blow out, we’ll see some of those young rookie legs get some burn and Luka and KP can be available Saturday against a beatable Wizards team. They can’t afford to drop games against teams like Washington and hope to make a run at the Western standings.

Finish Strong

This back to back also wraps up a lengthy road trip for Dallas. They’re nearly across the finish line of a marathon nine game stretch where eight games were on the road. It can’t be easy to play under those conditions, but if they power through these last two match ups, they can look forward to playing nine of their final 12 games at home sweet American Airlines Center.

How to Watch

The game starts at 6:30 on NBAtv