It's a little difficult to feel good about this game despite a ton of factors working in the Knicks favor.
The Mavericks are currently 2-6, with their two wins coming over the Bucks and the Lakers -- not exactly a murderers row. Dirk Nowitzki has only played in three games (he's questionable for tonight), and they've lost all three anyway. Deron Williams is already listed as out, which is another gift from the injury gods that the Knicks are liable to squander, as Williams has routinely made the Knicks look like blithering idiots throughout his career. This means the 20th-ranked Dallas offense might be missing two of its four best players.
Starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews has been worse than Dion Waiters so far this season, so maybe the Knicks won't be punished too badly for handing out open 3 point looks like they've been watching too much Oprah (YOU GET AN OPEN 3! AND YOU GET AN OPEN 3!). Matthews is shooting 29% from the field and 24% from 3 so far this season. Please try to enjoy the results of this massive anti-jinx as best as you can.
The Mavericks may very well be starting JJ Barea, the upside-down version of Wesley Matthews, Carmelo wannabe Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell, and Andrew Bogut. The Mavericks bench is a sad state of affairs, which is rich coming from a Knicks fan; Seth Curry is the backup PG right now, and he's pretty bad, which means he's got a 50% chance of having a career night. Justin Anderson remains the sole product of a literal generation of bad drafting by the Mavericks front office, and he's good enough to make Kooz uncomfortable on both ends of the floor. Quincy Acy will serve as a five minute reminder of how bad the 2014-15 season was. The rest of the bench is...let's put it this way. Out of the list below, pick out the four Mavericks bench players (without Googling it).
Correctly guess all four, and you'll earn a valuable bit of knowledge -- you really need to get out of the house more. Knowledge is power. You're welcome.
Now that the Knicks are once again last in the league in defensive rating, however, it's safe to say it might not matter who the Mavericks trot out, since they run an actual NBA offense with a bunch of guys who execute it well. Get ready to tell your kids about the time Barea dropped a 50-point triple double in MSG.
If Dirk plays, he'll shred the Knicks, but his mobility at this point is best compared to that of Kevin James, meaning KP could conceivably have a big night. Dirk has very little to work with off the dribble, which happens to be KP's biggest weakness at the moment. In the post, nobody is stopping Dirk, so who cares. On the other end, Porzingis will have a massive advantage IF the Knicks focus on getting him the freakin ball. This dude can reliably hit shots coming off screens. He's seven foot three. Get creative. In fact, Rick Carlisle might even hide try to hide Dirk on Joakim Noah at various points throughout the game.
With all this in mind, I have zero confidence in the Knicks to take this W. So far, they've handed every single opponent 6-10 points every game via stupid fouls while in the bonus. They've also allowed each opponent 4 free backdoor cuts per game, and they've routinely botched pick and roll coverages to boot. Fortunately, Dallas runs an isolation-based offense where — wait, no, that's a lie, they run an offense perfectly poised to take advantage of every single one of those problems. Even with below average personnel, they'll still take advantage if given the opportunity.
There's not much to say about this game from the point of view of the Knicks. If they play as they did in Toronto (until the final 5 minutes, of course), they should win this game. If they play like they did in Boston, they will lose BADLY, and every single one of us will spend the rest of the night once again contemplating how and why we chose to become Knick fans.
Consider this one analogous to a matchup with the Nets -- if we lose, we are probably terrible, but if we win, it means nothing, because they are also terrible. Fantastic, I know.
Prediction: At LEAST one Mavericks player has a career night. Willy Hernangomez grabs another 10+ rebounds off the bench (assuming that Hornacek continues to play him over Kyle O'Quinn, who is still pretty bad). The Knicks receive a generous gift from a minor basketball deity as Brandon Jennings actually scores at the rim instead of showing us his best impression of an inflatable tube man whenever he feels contact.
Knicks win, 112-108, as crippling depression takes the backseat for one more night.