In honor of Thanksgiving week, seems like the folks at the NBA scheduling department wanted the Knicks to catch up with old friends/teams. This week brings trips down memory lane for players who get to visit their old teams. It starts off with a return visit for JR Smith to see his old mates in New Orleans. Then Kidd & Chandler get to exchange holiday greetings with Mark Cuban. The team ends up this family re-union tour by visiting old friend Jeremy Lin. Of the three, the most intriguing match up is the Thanksgiving eve tilt with the Mavericks.
During the Knicks scorching start, both Carmelo & the team has proven that both a commitment to defense & belief in team first is not just a temporary thing. As was shown in the game versus the Spurs, the Knicks have the ability & confidence to be down in the fourth quarter and know that they have the fire power & experience to pull out a nice comeback win. Also, Carmelo showed that he is able to do the grunt work if his shot is not falling. The Indiana game proved that the team will maintain its focus after a loss and not start to question doing the little things that got them to where they are. Now the question becomes, how does this team deal with adjustments made by another team after their first match up?
The Mavericks have had over a full week to review the game footage from the first meeting at the Garden. Rick Carlisle’s coaching staff will be making their adjustments to the Knicks game from their first match up. How the Knicks react to the changes and how long it takes for them to take advantages of these match ups will be critical.
For example, with Rasheed bringing back the old school post game, with good footwork, the Mavericks may choose to bring the double faster than they normal and see if Smith, Novak, Kidd, etc. all can continue to nail down the outside & 3 point shots.
The Mavericks may test Carmelo’s faith in his teammates. They may double him more and try to force the ball out of his hand. Should a low percentage of his teammate’s shots be falling, will Carmelo continue with the game plan or will he decide that the he needs to carry the team on his back & start taking a larger percentage of the shots. This development would suit the Mavericks by giving them less of the court to cover.
Another adjustment would be to test the legs of the Knicks by pushing the tempo by running on every occasion that presents itself. This would be more for the coaching staff, but with a such a veteran team on the 2nd night of a back to back, minutes need to be managed or else you may end up losing these, resulting in your main horses are just too tired and don’t have anything left during crunch time.
The Knicks ability to quickly recognize & capitalize on other team’s adjustments will yield great dividends come playoff time.