Knicks vs. Mavericks 1:00 PM
Where to Watch: ABC
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
After a narrow loss to New Orleans on Friday night, the Knicks returned to Madison Square Garden Training Center for a practice session to prepare for the Mavericks. Head coach Mike D’Antoni told the reports in attendance that Carmelo Anthony will probably not play against Dallas while J.R. Smith and Baron Davis could suit up for the game and might be available. Davis is continuing his rehab process from a herniated disk he suffered last season and Smith is the Knicks newest acquisition and is expected to arrive in New York on Saturday night. New York’s 15-16 record keeps the squad in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings, just one game behind the Celtics for No. 7.
Mavericks high profile owner Mark Cuban finally captured his elusive NBA Championship by toppling the Miami Heat in last season’s Finals. In rapid fashion, the dynamic of the 2011 champs drastically changed when the Knicks acquired Dallas’ defensive anchor Tyson Chandler while Caron Butler bolted for the Clippers and DeShawn Stevenson signed a one-year deal with Nets. To counter the losses, the Mavericks acquired Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West, and Brandan Wright. After a slow 8-7 start to the season, Dallas is rolling with six straight victories, including impressive wins over Denver twice, the Clippers, and Sixers on Friday night. The Mavericks are 12-4 in their last 16 games and boast a 20-11 overall record, good for the No. 4 spot in the Western Conference standings as of Saturday afternoon.
Last Time Out
Amar’e Stoudemire scored 26 points and grabbed 12 board but the Knicks could not overcome an early deficit in an 89-85 home loss to the Hornets.
Dallas put the defensive clamps on Philadelphia on Friday by only allowing 24 second half points in an 82-75 road win.
The Numbers Game
Chandler ranks No. 1 in the league in field goal percentage by registering 70.3 percent from the floor this season. The second highest player is Tiago Splitter of the Spurs at 62.3 percent.
Match-up to Watch
Amar’e Stoudemire vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Averaging four less points per game this season, Nowitzki did not begin the year as expected after an incredible run in the 2011 NBA Finals. However, in the month of February, the 2007 MVP is back to averaging 22.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Stoudemire will face an extremely difficult defensive assignment on Sunday afternoon as Nowitzki owns every offensive trick in the book. Nowitki can hit jumpers from every angle, sink deep three-pointers, and has an underrated off the dribble game. Chandler will help protect the rim and help from the weak side but the Stoudemire-Nowitzki matchup will be an intriguing to watch with both teams relying on their offensive production.
What to Look For
In speaking with Chandler on Saturday afternoon at the Knicks practice, he explained how Dallas is a strong defensive squad even with most of the focus on their offensive weapons, notably, Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, and Lamar Odom. Shawn Marion is a versatile defender and he has helped the Mavericks rank No. 5 in points allowed per game. Dallas has not allowed a team to reach the century mark in 10 straight games and New York is riding a similar streak of nine games without an opponent scoring 100 points. Expect a defensive battle once again at the Garden with both teams hoping for strong performances at the point guard spot. It will be interesting to see how Jeremy Lin bounces back from his first loss as a starter and a nine-turnover game against New Orleans. He will square off against a future Hall-of-Famer at the position.
Additionally, Chandler will have to battle his emotions while facing his former team that he captured a title with last year. The big man said on Saturday that he expects emotions to run high but is looking forward to the chance at sending Dallas to the loss column.