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Game Preview: Knicks at Mavericks- 03/09/22

Knicks return to the scene of the Porzingis heist

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how terrible the Knicks are/have been, the Dallas Mavericks have remained their raison d’être. The 2019 Kristaps Porzingis trade set the stage for bad blood between the two teams, as one team’s junk was thought to be another team’s treasure. With KP jettisoned at the trade deadline to Washington, both team's fanbases can finally exhale at a rivalry that never really way, united in their hatred for that Latvian's bum ass.

If we judged the trade on purely the pieces each team swapped, and disregard the abstraction of cap space and the underwhelming return from the Wizards, the Knicks win by a slight margin. Essentially, the trade netted the Knicks a bag of bums, the heartbreaking descent of Dennis Smith Jr., and two picks, one of which turned out to be fan favorite and solid two-way stud, Quentin Grimes. The Mavs have been the worst team draft-wise of the last 15 years, so it’s hard to say whether they would have had the foresight and infrastructure to select Grimes if they kept the pick, but he's better than any of their current wings, which are mostly discarded ex-Knicks anyways.

Ah yes, the Dallas Knicks. Even our tossed-out bums look good next to Luka Doncic. Doncic does what no one on the Knicks' current or relative past roster can do — make players better. Thanks to his generational abilities, many on the Mavs have had extended careers and to be quite honest, stayed in the NBA altogether.

For some reason, the Knicks have had the Mavs number since the KP trade. And it’s to be expected they will have it again as the Knicks enter Dallas on a two-game win streak. I’ve been a massive advocate for the tank in order to target Jaden Ivey, but I will settle for another embarrassing Mavs loss at the hands of our loveable bunch of bums. RJ Barrett will surely re-introduce himself to Mavs fans, who of all the fanbases, seem to have the least knowledge of what’s happening outside their own bubble. Barrett’s been on a tear, inching closer to averaging 20+ with every ball-busting game since the new year.

Julius Randle will return home, being born and raised in Dallas, and is sure to put on a show after a career-high game against Sacramento. The Knicks actually match up really well against Dallas, who has one of the worst collections of big men in the league. If Mitchell Robinson is over his “illness” and can stay out of four trouble, the Knicks should force Dallas to play big, counter to their most efficient defensive lineups.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Spencer Dinwiddie - That Porzingis/Wizards trade is looking a lot less laughable now that Dinwiddie is showing he is more than just a Crypto-bro with a handle. Dinwiddie has given the Mavs a new dynamic as an on-ball creator, allowing Doncic to rest in distribution responsibilities and focus on torching the opposition. It's worked well in Dallas's favor who have beaten almost every team they might play in the playoffs in dominating fashion. Dinwiddie will be the X-factor come playoff time, as the only other Mav besides Doncic capable of averaging 20 ppg in a playoff series.

Luka Doncic - It's scary to think Doncic has another level. Since he's shed some of the baby fat he came into the season with, he’s been even more unstoppable than ever. Doncic is everything any team could want in a superstar: he makes others better, he’s a dawg, he thrives in crunch time, and he does all the little things some superstars feel above doing. He’s a high character, badass muthafucker who will only get better and is already dominating the league at 23-years-old. Doncic will torch the Knicks like he torches everyone else. Knicks fans can only hold onto that legendary photo of a teenage Doncic donning a Knicks Melo jersey, giving the camera a thumbs up. Another superstar, another delirious dream.

Reggie Bullock - We miss you, Reggie - sincerely, all Knicks fans. Bullock was the glue of last year’s overachieving squad. It’s a case of not knowing what you had until it’s gone. Of all the Dallas Knicks we will face tomorrow, Bullock is the only one we really miss. He’s the perfect 3 and D sniper. He plays hard and demands little. It took him a while to catch on in Dallas, but he’s been the perfect role player for the Mavs. As he would be for any functional team.

Dorian Finney-Smith - I love Finney-Smith, or “Do-Do” as he's affectionately called by Mavs fans. Like Bullock, he’s the pinnacle of 3 and D. He’s always been a great role-playing running-mate for Doncic to kick out to for open threes. But he’s the perfect example of Mavs fan special brand of delusion. He’s also exactly the level of player the Mavs front-office have paired with Doncic, thinking the amount of “good vibes” and high fives Do-Do gives will convince Doncic to stay in Dallas until he’s grey. Doncic is not Dirk, and in order for them to keep their young superstar, they will need to pair him with a star who’s more than a role player. As of now, that’s all that surrounds Doncic, and as we saw with their historic offense two years ago, everything changes in the playoffs. And Dallas will be bringing one superstar to a playoff shootout where most teams have two.

Dwight Powell - Powell has been playing the best basketball of his career since the KP trade. Reinforcing Knicks fan's theories that KP was a cancer in the Dallas locker room. But as good as Powell has been playing, he's the worst starting center in the NBA. He’s a modern-day Eduardo Najera. A big, strong, wide-shouldered big incapable of scoring outside of a lob. He plays mediocre defense but tries hard on every possession. As the Mavs longest-tenured player, he embodies how bad the hole at center has been since the championship 2011 season.

PREDICTION

Since they are on an unexpected “win streak,” the Knicks keep it going with a solid win over Dallas. The Mavs will have no answer to the Knicks massive frontcourt. The Knicks will have no answer for Luka. But will have plenty of answers for the rest of the overrated role-player roster.