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Mavericks vs. Knicks Preview: 3 things to watch as Dallas takes on New York

Dallas looks to continue its recent run of dominance in the Empire State

New York Knicks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Tim Heitman/Getty Images

Dallas is the winner of two straight games and are riding some positive momentum for the first time in what feels like a month. They face a Knicks team who is in the midst of dealing with a rash of injuries to a slew of starters and ket rotation players. Sounds familiar.

Still, despite the injuries, New York has been one of the East’s hottest teams. They’re 9-1 over their last 10, and managed to defeat a similarly shorthanded Grizzlies team.

Dallas beat the Knicks back in mid-January, before the addition of OG Anunoby. Anunoby will likely not face this Dallas team as he deals with an elbow injury, and former Maverick Jalen Brunson left the Memphis game with an ankle injury and will be a game-time decision.

Kings of New York

After taking care of business against the Brooklyn Nets, a win against the Knicks would mean a season sweep against the league’s New York-based teams. Getting the wins in a tough season is reason enough to celebrate any kind of sweep, but Dallas has had a number of roster connections to the two Big Apple squads recently that makes the wins feel just a little bit sweeter.

Luka Doncic was all smiles with former Mavs and friends Dorian Finney-Smith and Dennis Smith Jr in Brooklyn after the win on Tuesday, with some help from a Kyrie Irving “don’t call it a revenge game” Irving, who threw down a one-handed tomahawk dunk. A sweep of his buddy Jalen Brunson, based on how much those two enjoyed ribbing each other when they wore the same jersey, would be a solid vibe boost as the All Star break draws closer.

Low Usage Luka

Luka’s season average usage rate is 35.8%; second in the league, behind only Joel Embiid.

Doncic’s usage has long been a topic of discussion for Doncic boosters and haters alike. His usage was slightly elevate throughout January when he averaged 37% as he shouldered an enormous load while his front-court running mate Irving and Dante Exum went in and out of the lineup.

Over these last two games, both wins, Luka notched his lowest usage percentage game of his season – 25.7% against Philly, and a below average 33.9% against Brooklyn.

WHile head coach Jason Kidd he said on a number of occasions he’d like to get Luka’s numbers down, Doncic left the Brooklyn game with 43 under his belt. (Was that because he wanted one more assist to finish his triple double? Who’s to say.) Still, despite a sky-high minutes log, Doncic has said having Kyrie back and not having to bring the ball up and run the offense on every single possession makes the games much easier to play.

If both of Luka’s and Kyrie’s health can remain strong, hopefully we’ll see Luka’s usage recede a bit as some of that burden falls to Irving while Dallas continues to notch some wins.

X Factor Josh Green

Dallas has often counted on Tim Hardaway Jr to be a guy who can, at the drop of a hat, pour in four or five threes a game over a consistent stretch of games. THJ has come back to Earth somewhat after a big month of January that saw him shoot over 38% from three on nearly 8.5 attempts per game.

Now, at least over the last four games, that production is being taken up by Josh Green. He’s scored in double digits for four straight games - a first for him this season - and has made 52% of his 5.8 attempts per game.

If Green and the rest of the Mavs can stay hot from deep against this Knicks team that’s in a bit of a three-point shooting slump (one that might get worse is Brunson can’t play), they’ll have a huge advantage and easy blueprint to leave this game with a win.

How to watch

You can broadcast or stream the game on TNT at 6:30 CST.