Earl K. Sneed previews the Mavericks' Wednesday night game in New York, as the team starts a three-game road trip with a matchup against Amar'e Stoudemire and the Knicks.
NEW YORK — Not even a weather-delayed flight from Dallas to New York was enough to derail the streaking Mavericks.
Riding a five-game winning streak and coming off a clean sweep through a four-game homestand for the first time since March of 2008, the Mavericks (32-15) will look to continue that stretch of winning basketball Wednesday night against Amar’e Stoudemire and the New York Knicks.
But even Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has to admit that his team hasn’t seen an opponent the caliber of the Knicks (25-22) in Dallas’ last five games, despite New York’s 3-7 record record in its last 10 outings. Carlisle says defeating the Knicks won’t be easy, at least not as easy as the Mavericks made their homestand look after scoring in triple digits in all four games.
The coach adds that his squad’s current three-game road trip figures to be much more daunting, starting with Wednesday night’s trip into Madison Square Garden, before also journeying to Boston and Charlotte.
“Three teams that are playing really well,” Carlisle said of the Mavericks’ next three opponents. “The Knicks are coming off a good win in Detroit and they’re getting back to full strength … Boston’s record speaks for itself. They’re hammering everybody out West, which is not easy to do. And Charlotte has had a rebirth since Paul (Silas) took over. So, it’s three teams that are all in the thick of it in terms of playoff standings, a lot to play for, and it’s gonna be tough.”
“This is a tough one for us, especially since we’ve been playing good basketball,” Mavericks center Tyson Chandler echoed. “We want to continue our streak. It’s always tough when you play against those Eastern Conference teams, because it’s such a different style of basketball.”
Wednesday night, however, the Mavericks will have to find a way to slow down the Knicks’ high-octane offense led by Stoudemire, the NBA’s second-leading scorer, who is putting up 26.2 points a night. The do-it-all big man is proving to be one of the top off-season additions, breaking out from under two-time MVP Steve Nash’s shadow since leaving Phoenix and garnishing his own MVP considerations after being reunited with coach Mike D’Antoni.
But Chandler, who is making his own case to join Stoudemire in next month’s All-Star Game, says that he is looking forward to a one-on-one matchup with the Knicks’ go-to player.
“I’m gonna take the best 4 or 5 every night,” Chandler said in regard to guarding the other team’s top post player. “That’s what I’m here for, and those are the matchups you look forward to. Amar’e is an incredible player, incredible athlete. He has a variety of shots, so it’s one of those situations I enjoy. I enjoy going up against him, because he plays with passion every night and he’s gonna bring it.”
Chandler is coming off an 18-point, 18-rebound night for his 10th double-double of the season despite tweaking a right ankle in a 102-92 victory over Washington. With the ankle not giving the big man any trouble, Carlisle may look to get the 7-foot-1 Chandler involved even more on the offensive end, even after referring to the Mavericks’ prized off-season pickup as the “heart and soul of the defense” earlier in the season.
Playing with heart and soul nightly, the Mavericks have called upon their man in the middle for much more than defense of late.
“[Chandler] always gives everything that he has out there,” Carlisle said.
“Tyson’s an All-Star,” sixth man Jason Terry added. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it, but he needs to be in that game. He’s the best center in the West. I mean, you name another center in the West that’s better than him, night in and night out.”
With Chandler playing perhaps his best basketball of the season, the short-handed Mavericks hope to also keep their winning streak going with sharpshooters Peja Stojakovic (knee) and Roddy Beaubois (left foot) back in Dallas rehabbing from their injuries and hoping to return to the court when the team heads home after the road trip.
The Mavs will also try to respond after Carlisle’s now infamous rant in the second quarter of Monday night’s win. Unhappy with the team’s effort, Carlisle called a timeout and scolded his team, saying he was as angry as he’s been all season with the squad’s performance. What ensued was a turnaround that saw the Mavericks turn a double-digit deficit into a 10-point win.
“The reason I was [mad], is because I care about these guys,” Carlisle said, “and I believe in what we can be. And so, I’m gonna tell them what’s on my mind and I’m gonna tell them what’s right, and they can disagree if they want to. But I’m all about trying to help them win, and right now, that’s all this is about.”
The coach hopes his message carries over to Wednesday night’s game, as the team tries to improve on its 13-7 road record.
Note: The Mavericks begin a three-game road trip with Wednesday night’s matchup in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. It will be the first game of the season between the two squads. The game will tip off at 6:30 CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
The team returns to Dallas to host the Cleveland Cavaliers next Monday night, Feb. 7, at the American Airlines Center. The Mavericks went into Quicken Loans Arena and handed the Cavs a 104-95 loss on their home floor back on Jan. 2. That matchup will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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