Dallas Mavericks (-2, 197.5 o/u) at New York Knicks
Thanks to strong play from Carmelo Anthony and Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the New York Knicks (10-11, 5-6 Home) are no longer a laughing stock in the Eastern Conference. But the squad is still struggling to find consistency and finds itself in the middle of a middling Atlantic Division. The Knickerbockers will hope to make up some ground tonight when the Dallas Mavericks (12-9, 7-6 Away) come to town (7:30 PM Eastern at Madison Square Garden).
New York saw a modest two-game win streak snapped on Saturday, falling 106-91 to Milwaukee. Anthony had an off night, going 6 of 17 from the field (18 points). Porzingis had a decent game, going 4 of 8 from the floor (12 points), but only saw 21 minutes of action after getting into foul trouble.
The loss came on the heels of two of the Knicks’ better games of the year, as they cruised past the 76ers (99-87) and Nets (108-91) earlier in the week.
The Knicks have been at their best this year when they’re not solely relying on “Melo” for offense. Porzingis has been the team’s main secondary weapon, shooting 44.0-percent from the field this season and averaging 14.0 points and 9.2 rebounds per game.
Tonight, Porzingis will be facing one of the players he grew up idolizing, German Dirk Nowitzki, who helped open the door for Europeans in the NBA.
“You know I want to go up against Dirk, he’s one of the guys I looked up to and learned the game from,” Porzingis told the Associated Press. “It definitely won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The youngster may have to shoulder an even heavier offensive load tonight as Anthony is questionable due to a knee injury. Anthony has missed one game already this year, and the Knicks limped to a five-point loss to the Houston Rockets.
Like the Knicks, the Mavs have also failed to find much of a rhythm in the early going, alternating wins and losses over their last five games. They put in a solid performance on Sunday, though, beating the Wizards 116-104 on the strength of 36 points (including ten threes) from Wesley Matthews.
Matthews, who is coming back from an Achilles injury, is only averaging 12 points per game this season, down from 16 last year. But head coach Rick Carlisle is confident he’ll get back to the level of play he’s shown in years past.
“Wes led the way,” Carlisle told the AP after the win. “He’s had a rough go here, and the important thing is we all kept encouraging him. What he’s doing is extremely difficult, coming back from that injury on this timetable.”
The Knicks are only playing .500 ball at home, but they’re 5-2 ATS in their last seven at MSG. If Anthony is a go, taking the home squad and the points looks like the play.
Pick: Knicks +2.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (Flickr: Carmelo Anthony) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)