Game 9 Preview: Mavs vs Knicks

The Mavericks face off against the Knicks Friday night at 7:30 CT for Día De Los Muertos night at the American Airlines Center.   The Knicks are in their first season under new Head Coach David Fizdale and are off to an equally slow start as the Mavs in this battle of two desperate 2-6 teams.

The Knicks are still without their All Star from last year, the Unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis, as he continues to rehab a torn ACL from February of last season.  By the sounds of it, Porzingis is still months away from a return and may not even get on the court this season, although he will be very motivated to do so as he is an unrestricted free-agent this summer.  Hopefully a strong rookie season can allow the Wonder Kid, Luka Doncic, to entice Kristaps to come to Dallas and start a Slovenian/Latvian connection the next 10 years (Hey, I can dream can’t I?).

Dallas Mavericks

New York Knicks





13th in West

12th in East




Points Allowed



FG %



3p %



FT %













Projected Starters

Dallas Mavericks New York Knicks
PG Dennis Smith, Jr Frank Ntilikina
SG Wesley Matthews Damyean Dotson
SF Luka Doncic Tim Hardaway, Jr
PF Harrison Barnes Noah Vonleh
C DeAndre Jordan Mitchell Robinson

The Knicks are now led by 6th year guard, Tim Hardaway Jr, who, coming off a 37-point performance against Indiana in Wednesday, is averaging 26 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and shooting 41% from 3-point range.

Given that the Knicks starting lineup is a Who’s Who of ‘Who is That?’, Mavs fans would love to chalk this one up as a win.  But anyone who has been watching the Mavs this season knows playing up to par is easier said than done.

We all know Rick Carlisle to be a great coach.  He was coach of the year in 2002 for the Detroit Pistons and obviously worked with Dirk to bring the Mavericks their first and only championship in 2011.  Of the 16 years he has been an NBA Head Coach he has only missed the playoffs 4 times, two of which were previous Mavs tanking years.  With all of this said, why does it look like the Mavericks are currently one of the most poorly coached teams in the league?  They consistently take bad shots, turn the ball over, and mismanage or poorly execute at the end of games.

The Mavericks average 16.1 turnovers per game (28th out of 30), they take THE MOST 3s in the league at 36.4/game but only make 33.7% of them (22nd out of 30), and have failed to execute in close games all year (see Atlanta, San Antonio, Los Angeles).

Not all the struggles are on the offensive end, the Mavericks rank 22nd out of 30 in Defensive Rating, 28th in opponent field goal % (49%), and 30th in opponent 3 point % (48%).  Just watching the game, Mavericks players all seem confused and uncomfortable on defense.  Many times the other team, without having to run any offense to do it, will have mismatches coming down the floor after Mavericks makes.  It looks like the strategy is to switch absolutely everything but it has not been fluid switching and it winds up giving opponent uncontested jump shots.

How many times does Wes Matthews have to get beat during and at the end of games for Carlisle to realize he is not a defensive stopper.  Of the Mavs players with at least 100 minutes this year (everyone except Broekhoff and Harris) Wes Matthews has by far the worst Defensive Box Plus/Minus score (a box score estimates of the points per 100 possessions that a player contributed above a league-average player).  The eye test will tell you the same thing, Wes is habitually going for irrational steals and will jump way out of position on opponent crossovers and fakes.  The time of thinking of Wes as an elite perimeter defender are undoubtedly and unequivocally OVER.

Rick is a genius coach and there is no doubt that if MFFLs can see these deficiencies of the Mavericks than so can he.  Maybe it is just a matter of focus and effort, maybe the team just needs more time to gel and come together, or maybe the Mavs just aren’t the team we were hoping they would be.  Whatever the case, hopefully Rick, Donnie Nelson, and Mark Cuban get it figured out quickly.

Things to watch for in tonight’s game:

  • 2nd year French guard, Frank Ntilikina, was drafted 8th overall, 1 spot ahead of our beloved Dennis Smith, Jr. Let’s see if DSJ has a little extra juice going against a point guard drafted ahead of him.
  • Devin Harris may return this game, we will see if his return means a reduction in playing time for promising rookie Jalen Brunson or if those minutes will come from Wesley Matthews.

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