NY Knicks vs. Mavericks: 3 key matchups in a heated game

Julius Randle, Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Julius Randle, Kristaps Porzingis, Knicks. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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NY Knicks
NY Knicks. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Knicks have had plenty of heated rivalries over the years, particularly with Eastern Conference opponents like The Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, and Indiana Pacers. This is the first time in a while that The Knicks have been in solid playoff contention this late in the season. They haven’t had many opportunities in recent years to play intense, meaningful basketball late in the season, but that’s exactly what they’ll be doing Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Maybe some don’t consider the Mavericks a conventional “rival” given they play in another conference, but when Kristaps Porzingis was traded to The Mavericks in January of 2019, it certainly left some animosity in the hearts of Knicks fans. A player who made the All-Rookie First Team and The All-Star Game in their first few seasons was traded away, a young homegrown talent being traded away so early in their career is something that rarely happens in any sport.

NY Knicks & Dallas Mavericks have both found success

Here we are in 2021 and both teams have to be feeling good about the trade. The Mavericks have one of the most dynamic young duos in the NBA and have even filled out much of their roster with other players acquired in the deal (Tim Hardaway Jr., Trey Burke). The Knicks now have a player who is putting together a potential All-NBA season in Julius Randle, they’re a playoff team that’s way ahead of schedule in their rebuild, and they have a surplus of draft picks (2021 unprotected 1st round pick, 2023 top-10 protected 1stround pick) leftover from the deal.

If The NY Knicks were to make the playoffs and end up having a lottery pick from The Dallas Mavericks, well, that would be a dream scenario. The Knicks have an opportunity to increase those chances Friday night.

Forgetting all of the narratives and storylines, plain and simple, this is a game between two good teams both slightly over .500 who are trying to hold steady in their respective conference playoff races. Let’s look at some of the key matchups to look out for.