2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Mavericks

Hello again, Knickerblogger family! It’s so damn good to see you!

I’ve returned from my annual two weeks of NCAA Tournament fanaticism, and it feels good to be paying attention to NBA basketball again. If you watch about 40 games of college basketball over the course of 10 days, it becomes rather clear how superior NBA players are. In fact, by the end of the Elite 8 games on Sunday, I was honestly relieved that my (why is it so important to me every year when I basically ignore college basketball until the tournament starts?) bracket was eliminated from my pool. There is thousands of dollars on the line, and I won a few years ago which has caused me to be irrationally attached to the tournament every year since in hopes of recreating that feeling (and monetary award). I had Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia and UNC in the Final Four, which looked damn good on Saturday afternoon, but the dream is finally dead. So I can wake up and watch REAL basketball players.

Tonight’s game features my two favorite teams in a match of “our season ended around Groundhog Day” versus “our season isn’t quite over but it’s aggressively circling the drain.” The Mavericks lost Chandler Parsons for the year, so even if they squeak into the playoffs, they will likely be swept by Golden State or San Antonio in the first round. I’m not sure I even want to watch that, but I’ll always take playoff basketball over no playoff basketball, even if I know we’re destined to be eviscerated by one the NBA’s two best teams. The Knicks are just going through the motions of closing out the season, although Rambis is certainly trying to maintain the illusion of being a coach.

His recent decision to bench Afflalo is certainly one that I have no argument with, and I find it hard to believe many readers take issue with it either, but starting Get Cic or Die Tryin’ in his place feels like a legitimate troll job on Knicks fans. Oh, you guys want us to bench the ineffective veterans and give the young guys time since the season is over? Well, we’re gonna trot out Sasha “is my hair okay?” Vujacic and Kevin “I look just like a basketball player” Seraphin so we can leave Jerian and Langston to sharpen their Cards Against Humanity skills on the bench. I honestly have to give Rambis a golf clap here for finding a way to give 20+ minutes a night to a person who literally couldn’t play a meaningful minute for any competitive team in the league.

But I do agree with benching Afflalo. He has been terrible and his contract is poison; he can’t come back next year, and the horrible truth is that he holds the power over whether or not he absorbs another $8 million in cap space next season because the contract has a player option, not a team option. The strategy here, if I’m correctly reading between the lines (although by looking at Rambis’ and Afflalo’s quotes, they’re not exactly being covert about this), is to convince Afflalo that he won’t get a chance to start for this team going forward, and if he wants another crack at one last decent contract before retirement, he needs to go elsewhere to show the league what he can do next year. I honestly think it’s a solid move—kind of like when a job starts doing everything they can to make someone quit because they don’t want to fire them.

Sure, it’s a bit on the cruel side, but the Knicks can’t fire the guy, so the only way to rid themselves of him is to make him quit. I know he came to New York with purpose and wanted to be here, but it seems like a split is all but guaranteed after this season. It would be a bummer if Afflalo exercises his player option and sticks around if he sees the market doesn’t have anything for an aging 2-guard who shoots contested fadeaways and contributes almost nothing to the team outside of the stray good scoring performance. Damn… I really hope he leaves. But will he? Where else is he gonna get $8 million? If he thinks he can take a smaller contract in hopes of getting a big one after next year, he will leave, but he’s going to be 32 at that point and I’m not sure any team is going to be giving a 3 or 4 year contract to whatever version of him exists at that point.

Tonight is all about watching the torch being passed. This is the second meeting between Dirk and Kristaps, and the first one lived up to the hype and then some. I expect Dirk to have another good performance against the kid who idolized him, and I expect Kristaps to reach deep to impress the best European basketball player of all time. It should be a lot of fun, and it’s something we should all cherish, because it won’t happen many more times. I’m convinced Dirk will play two more seasons to make it a round 20 years in the league, and I honestly wouldn’t blame him for spending his last year on a one-year contract playing on a team that can win a title if Dallas doesn’t significantly improve next season. So that’s four more games (six if Dirk plays in the East his last year, although I think it’s a longshot. My hunch is he stays with Dallas no matter what, even if he has to suffer Kobe-style through his final season). And that’s assuming neither of them has to sit out any of those games.

Kristaps vs. Dirk is a matchup that we may only have a few more of, if any, so this is a great opportunity to see them face off. Dirk was the epitome of a franchise player for the Mavericks, and he has 13 ALL-Star selections, an MVP, an NBA Championship and a Finals MVP to show for it. I hope Kristaps can have a similarly productive and storied career path, and I hope a little bit of that Dirk swag rubs off on him. Dirk is known for his remarkable work ethic, which is why at 37 he can still drop 40 points on Portland last week. Kristaps should mine him for any advice he has to give, and he would do well to schedule a meeting with Dirk’s famous shooting coach Holger Geschwendner this summer.

Honestly, I cannot wait for this game. I know it means relatively nothing so far as this season goes, since even if the Mavericks find a way into the playoffs they will be lucky to see a Game 5, but it’s a really interesting basketball moment regardless.

Only 7 games left including tonight, everybody. We may as well try and enjoy them.

See you at 8:30!

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

58 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Mavericks”

  1. Ouch. Saw he might not play but thought he would suit up for this game. Must be pretty sore for him to sit this one out.

    Significant bummer. Well, scratch one of those last chances to see him play against Dirk. Damn shame.

  2. David Lee has been nasty in his 300 minutes with Dallas.

    If Phil’s into signing aging veterans near the end of their NBA lifespan, you could do worse than David Lee. Plus, he’s one of the most likable players from the dark ages (which we’re still in, until Kristaps develops.)

  3. Clyde just dropping truth bombs all over the Mavs broadcast. Not having the attempt to compliment DWil.

  4. O’Quinn’s reaction to Afflalo refusing his dap was this whole team in a nutshell LMAO

  5. I feel like every time we play JJ Barea he drops 20+ on us can anyone confirm the existence of this phenomena

  6. Ray Felton is hungry tonight, my friends, and not just for tex mex. He’s hungry for vengeance.

  7. Afflalo has played 13 minutes tonight and has 1 point and 1 rebound and is pissed he’s not a starter.

  8. Mark Cuban and freakin Sasha Vujacic just high fived but apparently Afflalo can’t do the same for O’Quinn for whatever reason.

    Can’t wait for this iteration of the team team to be over.

  9. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that having Melo guard the opposing PG is not an ideal defensive strategy.

  10. Mark Cuban and freakin Sasha Vujacic just high fived

    Sasha likeability to ability ratio is skewed in the wrong direction for winning basketball games

  11. Kent Bazemore is not even remotely a defensive stopper. DeRozan is exactly the sort of player he should be most useful against and he spent the entire night running into screens and falling out of the play. Someone is going to pay him way too much.

  12. When you see all of these little guards always killing us wouldn’t you think that Phil would remove his ban on them?

  13. We’ll break this game wide open just as soon as the O’Quinn/Seraphin tandem gets back in there. You can bet on it.

  14. Lmao @ DRed, well put.

    Afflalo on a one-man mission to lose this game. Impressive stuff

  15. Never seen so many turnovers in a quarter. They did let Mathews hack Melo all quarter tho lol

  16. I love how the post game crew has no problem criticizing Vujacic for not pressing on the last possession but say nothing about Melo’s shitty pick and roll help defense, his two misses, and 1 turnover right before it.

  17. Knicks really had to dig deep to find a way to lose this game.

    I need to find the stat, but when Dallas scores less than 100, they’re probably like 5-25 or something in that range. 91 might be about their lowest scoring win total this year. Time to go box score diving

  18. Amazing/pathetic, via Hahn:

    @alanhahn: Rambis says vets came to him and said he should start cutting their minutes in favor of younger players. Stay tuned to hear it. @MSGNetworks

    Great work, Kurt!

  19. I wouldn’t be too upset if Dolan fired everyone. Kurt Rambis is the worst head coach I’ve ever seen. Maybe if he coached last year’s Knicks we’d have Towns instead of Porzingis because man o man am I sick of this guy. The Knicks are worse than the sum of their parts with him, and they’re not a good team to begin with. Rambis seriously makes Fisher look like Poppovich.

    I generally support the Jackson era and think we’re on the right track, but Rambis cannot coach a game past this April. Just hire Thibodeau and let him win games and run his version of the triangle.

  20. Losing is extremely frustrating. And what makes it 10x worse is when you know you can help your team but you aren’t.

    That was Jerian Grant in Twitter a few minutes ago. I wish I thought he was a player because he is easy to root for. Despite the Knicksy afflalo gate, this is actually one of the higher character teams I’ve seen since maybe all the way back to Ewing-Oak-Mase-Starks-Harper-Hubert-everybody. So many guys like Grant-Galloway-Lance-Afflalo-Jose-Rolo who could be considered THE team/glue guy somewhere else. And the most mature rookie in recent history. Just not good enough at basketball.

  21. Recap will be up in the morning, unless Brian is still up and about right now, but I just finished it. Was watching some of the other games and didn’t start writing it until after Golden State-Utah finished in overtime.

    Take it easy everyone.

  22. Amazing/pathetic, via Hahn:

    @alanhahn: Rambis says vets came to him and said he should start cutting their minutes in favor of younger players. Stay tuned to hear it. @MSGNetworks

    Great work, Kurt!

    That is such an astonishingly depressing quote. But no, you see, Kurt has to win every game because they’re still in this thing! Or rather, he still thinks he might have a job next year (and the saddest thing is that he might be right).

  23. I wish I thought he was a player because he is easy to root for.

    I dunno, I think that (and his other similar tweet) was pretty weakly passive aggressive.

  24. This game made me think Calderon is an underrated cog despite the flaws on defense. I want to keep him as the backup unless removing him is required to land someone really good.

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