NEW YORK – This should be a fun Friday night of basketball.
It’d be better if the Mavs had as many (or any) starters from their 2011 title team as the Knicks do. However, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion will stay home to nurse their knees, while Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd wear the Knicks’ blue and orange.
Nevertheless, two of the NBA’s most explosive teams so far this season will meet at Madison Square Garden.
The surprising Mavs, with 25-year-old guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo playing starring roles, rank second in the NBA in scoring with 108.4 points per game. The Knicks, led by Carmelo Anthony, rank third with 104.7 points per game.
The Mavs and Knicks are the NBA’s top two 3-point-shooting teams so far. The Mavs have shot 48.5 percent from behind the arc and have made 50 3-pointers. The Knicks set an NBA record for 3-pointers made in the first three games of a season with 43 and are shooting 43.5 percent from long range.
An argument can be made that the Mavs’ success has been fools’ gold, as the four teams Dallas has defeated have a combined record of 5-13. The Mavs can quiet that talk against the undefeated Knicks, whom Rick Carlisle is referring to as a legitimate championship contender.
With former Mavs center Tyson Chandler serving as the backbone, the Knicks lead the NBA in scoring defense (85.3 points per game) and average point differential (19.4).
Records: Mavs (4-1); Knicks (3-0)
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Can the Mavs keep running? They’ve gone from one of the league’s least efficient transition teams last season to one of the best so far this season. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Mavs are one of six teams in the NBA with at least 80 transition plays and are averaging 1.2 points on those possessions. The Mavs averaged 1.06 points per transition possession last season, which ranked 29th in the NBA.
Key matchup: Tyson Chandler vs. Chris Kaman – It’s a matchup of the big man Mavs fans hated to see leave and the big man they’ve recently welcomed with open arms. Kaman was outstanding offensively in his first few games as a Mav, averaging 18 points on 70.6 percent shooting. Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, will be by far Kaman’s biggest challenge. Chandler continues to be a remarkably efficient complementary offensive piece, leading the NBA in field goal percentage (.679) last season and improving that clip slightly so far this year. Chandler has held Kaman to an average of 10.2 points on 38.8 percent shooting in 13 career meetings, eight of which were won by Chandler’s team.
Up next: at Charlotte Bobcats, 6:30 p.m., Saturday