The 2020-21 NBA season is quickly moving toward the end of the regular season and the fight for the playoff spots gets hotter with each night. Among teams looking to break through into the postseason are the New York Knicks (29-27), who have missed the playoffs in seven straight years.
Tom Thibodeau’s team takes on another playoff-hopeful the Dallas Mavericks (30-24) on Friday. Bookmaker 10Bet expects the Mavs to end the Knicks’ winning streak at four games here. The odds for a home win are at -215 and Dallas is a 4.5 favorite for the contest.
The Knicks have been a big surprise package this season as nobody expected the team to improve much from last season, which they ended with only 21 wins and a .318 winning percentage – only five teams in the league won fewer games.
Picking up a Thibodeau looks like a masterstroke by the front office that had been ridiculed for years for poor decision-making.
The Knicks previously struggled massively on both ends of the court, and their offense still needs some work, but Thibodeau has come and molded the side into the league’s best defensive team. They give up only 104.3 points per game and have limited the opposition to 44.2 percent shooting.
At the other end of the court, power forward Julius Randle leads the charge. The 26-year-old has developed into an All-Star under Thibodeau and is one of only five players in the league to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the year. He has notched three triple-doubles, two of which have come this month.
The Mavericks have their own triple-double threat in Luka Doncic, but it’s been the former Knicks man Kristaps Porzingis who’s grabbed the headlines lately. The Latvian center posted three big double-doubles in a row before taking a backseat in Wednesday’s 114-113 win over Memphis, which ended with a buzzer-beating triple by Doncic.
Porzingis spent his first few seasons in the league at the Big Apple before the Knicks traded him in January 2019. He has formed a great one-two punch with Doncic, but the duo hasn’t had a good enough supporting cast to elevate the Mavericks into the top tier of the Western Conference.
Dallas tends to blow hot and cold and currently, they seem to have hit a cold spell again, losing three of the past five games. They were on a season-best five-game winning streak just last week, which perfectly sums up the team’s inconsistency.
The Mavs’ winning run included a 99-86 victory over the Knicks in New York. They had lost three of the previous four head-to-head meetings before beating the Knicks in their own game – it was only the fourth game of the season in which Dallas limited to opposition to fewer than 90 points.