On any other night, the presence of rising global superstar Luka Doncic making his lone appearance of the season at the world’s most famous arena would be the biggest deal about these teams squaring off. Maybe that will be the case going forward, but with fans being allowed back at Madison Square Garden to fill 10 percent capacity amid restrictions related to the pandemic, it will be interesting to see what reaction Kristaps Porzingis gets in his second appearance since requesting out of New York in January of ‘19.
Porzingis, New York’s last All-Star player prior to Julius Randle earning that honor last month, returned on Nov. 14, 2019 and was booed mercilessly. Mavs at Knicks picks and predictions have to take into account how Porzingis will fare against Randle, whether 2,000 fans can make an impact in harassing the visitors and of course, if Doncic can be slowed by anyone on the Knicks roster.
New York won 106-103 when these teams met last at MSG, holding Dallas to just 16 fourth-quarter points. As a rookie, Doncic shot poorly but Dallas won 114-90 while Porzingis, still with the Knicks, was inactive as he rehabbed from an ACL tear suffered 11 months prior. The next day, Jan. 31 of ’19, he asked to be shipped out of town and was moved in a blockbuster trade that featured three Mavs players who were in the starting lineup the previous night, guards Dennis Smith, Jr., Wesley Matthews, and center DeAndre Jordan. None of those players remain on the roster, but these franchises certainly have a history tied together by Porzingis’ return.
- New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Time/Venue: 7:40 p.m. ET, Madison Square Garden
- TV: NBA TV
Porzingis Played Sparingly Late In Mavs’ Most Recent Win
Dallas is in the midst of a five-game road trip that culminates in Washington D.C. against the Wizards on Saturday night. After splitting games at New Orleans and Oklahoma City, Dallas closed the month with a nationally-televised 113-108 Wednesday night win in Boston, covering the betting line of 2.5 points with a win as an outright underdog.
Porzingis finished with 19 points, eight boards, and three blocks but didn’t play much in the fourth quarter as the Celtics made their comeback. Head coach Rick Carlisle feared that his defense would be exposed since Boston was applying pressure and spacing the floor in attempting to shoot their way back into the game after falling behind by 23 points nearly four minutes into the second half.
Porzingis is averaging 20.4 points while shooting a career-best 47.9 percent from the field, but rumors got out there that Dallas attempted to move him prior to the trade deadline in seeking a better partner for Doncic. It’s clear the Mavs have to solve a huge puzzle since it’s almost inevitable he’ll be a liability on the defensive end at some point come playoffs, when teams can better isolate mismatches in a series.
There are also concerns that the 7-foot-3 25-year-old will wear down as he ages. This April stretch run will play a large role in identifying what direction his career heads in but this matchup against a Knicks team that doesn’t run much and plays more of a halfcourt pace isn’t one where he’s likely be victimized, setting the stage for a big game now that he’s healthier.
Luka The Don Dominating As MVP Candidate In Return To New York
There’s no question Doncic will more than pull his weight regardless of who the opponent is when the playoffs arrive. The third-year 22-year-old star is averaging 28.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.9 assists and is now healthy again after missing a couple of games with back issues and an illness. He hit seven 3-pointers and scored 36 points in the March 31 win in Boston, although he did commit a season-high eight turnovers.
Doncic missed the first game of this trip against the Pelicans but is averaging 30.5 points over the two games he has suited up in. After struggling from the perimeter over the first two months, which included opening the season 2-for-21, Doncic is shooting over 44 percent from 3-point range over the past two months and is on a 21-for-39 run from beyond the arc. The ‘under’ may be 13-5 in Dallas’ last 18 games, but the high side has connected in three of the last five that Doncic has played in due to his improved shooting prowess.
This is the third time Doncic will take the court at Madison Square Garden but he’s just 5-for-21 from 3-point range in going 1-1 there in his first two appearances, so it will be fun to see whether he can continue his hot streak. The Knicks lead the NBA in scoring defense (104.5) and 3-point shooting defense (33.6 percent), so they’ll be a worthy foil for a Dallas team that leads the Southwest Division by a single game over San Antonio, ranking seventh in the Western Conference.
Knicks No Longer Laughing Stock As April Stretch Run Begins
Although New York comes off disappointing losses to Miami and on the road at Minnesota on Wednesday night, it comes in at 24-24 (.500), which is good for sixth in the East. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since 2012-13 and have failed to top the 30-win mark in any of the last three seasons, so this is really a great run they’re on as they attempt to finish with a winning record for the first time in eight years.
With Randle flourishing in a point forward role, second-year lottery pick R.J. Barrett producing on a nightly basis and a talented mix of veterans and young players really buying into the defense first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau demands, entering Friday’s action one game up on the slumping Celtics isn’t a fluke. Boston is currently eighth in the East.
Mavericks at Knicks picks and predictions will have to take into account whether New York can get back on track after coming up just short against the Timberwolves. The team has been excellent at home since February began, winning 10 of 14 games outright (10-4 ATS) while avoiding any losing streaks. New York lost to the Heat 98-88 on Monday but haven’t dropped consecutive games at the Garden since Jan. 10-13. It is 14-9 at home this season.
Betting Line Analysis
The Knicks are an underdog at home for the eighth time since Jan. 31 and are 2-5 in those games (3-4 ATS). BetRivers lists Dallas as a favorite of 5.5 points. The line opened 5.5 at FanDuel, DraftKings, William Hill books, the Westgate SuperBook and BetMGM and hasn’t moved as of Friday morning.
The total opened at 214 at Westgate but slipped to 213.5. William Hill opened at 213.5 and hasn’t moved while BetRivers, FanDuel, and DraftKings are listing it at 213. No Mavs games have closed under 215 all season and the only four have closed below 220, coming in 2-2 O/U in those games.
Knicks games have seen the total close under 213 an NBA-high 17 times, so they’re expected to dictate pace. The ‘under’ is 7-1 in New York’s last eight games, so the lower figure may be a market overreaction.
Injuries/Rotational Adjustments to Watch
The Knicks are listing Barrett and guard Derrick Rose as questionable with ankle sprains. Both may play, but confirmation won’t come until after shootaround at the earliest. Rookie playmaker Immanuel Quickley, shooter Alec Burks and point guard Elfrid Payton would be in for larger roles if both sit. New York welcomed center Mitchell Robinson back from a fractured bone in his hand and had him back in the mix for fourth games before he broke his foot, requiring surgery.
The Mavs are without their top shot blocker, center Willie Cauley-Stein, due to COVID-19 protocols. They acquired shooter J.J. Redick at the trade deadline but are still awaiting a timetable for when they can use him and don’t anticipate it being any time soon.
Mavericks At Knicks Handicapping Notes And Pick
Although it’s important to decipher whether Barrett and Rose are playing, the fact both teams are missing key rim protectors and have hot shooters they can depend on makes the high side the lean here.
Doncic is really featuring a confident stroke and a motivated Porzingis should help fuel Dallas’ offense, but New York does have perimeter weapons it can employ to hang around in the scoring department so long as the game doesn’t bog down to shooting droughts.