Hey fellow night owls, set your alarm clocks! It is time for brunch and basketball as the Mavericks visit Madison Square Garden for their only regular-season game with the New York Knicks at 11:30 am tomorrow morning. Can Dallas snap out of their road funk against a familiar face?
A tough matchup for the Mavericks, the Knicks are tenacious, rangy defenders and never roll over when trailing. This will be the ninth time Luka Doncic has faced the Knicks. In the preceding 8 matchups since the start of the 2018-2019 season, Dallas is 2-6. Contests against New York are always played against a backdrop of connections tethering the two franchises in recent years.
The Jalen Brunson saga
What a difference a year makes. Entering last season, there were understandable concerns about Jalen Brunson’s future viability after the playoff series versus the Clippers. Brunson went on an amazing journey from question mark, to steady hand, to playoff maestro. Then, he was gone. To say the Mavericks have missed Brunson early on this year would be an epic understatement. If you have yet to watch the Knicks play this year, it will be a bit jarring to see Brunson in a Knicks uniform.
The Knicks were part of the Jalen Duren trade which created the cap space needed for Jalen Brunson signing and supplied two future firsts as potential trade capital to use in acquiring another star to play alongside Brunson - who is playing very well for the Knicks averaging 21.3 points and 6.5 assists per game.
The Kristaps Porzingis trade
The Porzingis trade may feel like ancient history yet the ramifications of that move still color the present options for the Mavericks. Until the second of two first-round picks is conveyed to New York in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft, the Mavericks are limited by an arcane league rule that limits teams from trading away first-round picks in consecutive years.
The trade was an admirable attempt to pair Luka Doncic with a second star. The fit between Doncic and Porzingis was terrific on paper but never translated to the court and the locker room. If the Mavericks had it to do over again, would they take the same big swing? Probably, but on a different player.
To his credit, Porzingis is having a great season. So much so that Wizards fans may wonder if his 36 million player option might be bypassed if he believes now is the time to land another multiyear deal.
The Knicks drafted Keon Johnson with the 2021 first-round pick they received from the Mavericks and traded him to the Clippers for Quentin Grimes. Grimes is starting to show a little something in his second year.
Kemba Walker returns to the Garden
Whether newly signed Mavericks guard Kemba Walker will make his season debut for Dallas against the Knicks remains to be seen. What is certain is that the Knicks acquired Walker to be their lead point guard last season and coach Tom Thibodeau was never happy with the results. Yanked in and out of the lineup all year, Walker mutually agreed with the Knicks to be “shut down” for the season in February.
Walker believes he still has gas left in the tank and given the Mavericks need for what he is known for providing, Dallas is hoping is right about that.
Former Knicks face their old team
Tim Hardaway Jr - fresh out back to back solid offensive games for Dallas - returns to face his former team - as do Reggie Bullock and Frank Ntilikina. After a rough loss to Detroit, the Mavericks are in need of a win. Getting it against the Knicks would help in the standings and might carry a little extra weight given how intertwined both teams have become the last few years.