2012 NBA Playoffs: Are the New York Knicks This Year's Dallas Mavericks?

Aaron Jacobs@@AaronAJacobsContributor IIIApril 23, 2012

2012 NBA Playoffs: Are the New York Knicks This Year's Dallas Mavericks?

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    It's no secret that New York Knicks fans are starving for a title.

    The Knicks have secured a playoff spot this season, but heading into the playoffs, it seems like many people have completely written them off.

    Yet if you look at the Knicks' roster, they have the talent to be compared to last year's Dallas Mavericks team, which surprised everyone by winning the NBA title. 

    Let's take a look at how the Knicks compare to last year's champs. 

A Pure Scorer: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Carmelo Anthony

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    Last year Dirk Nowitzki put the Dallas Mavericks on his back throughout the playoffs. 

    Nowitzki made almost every single big shot for the Mavs and won the NBA Finals MVP. 

    If there is one way to compare Carmelo Anthony to Dirk Nowitzki, it would be the fact that they are both pure scorers.

    When each of these players is feeling it on the court, they are nearly unstoppable.

    This is exactly what the New York Knicks need in this season's playoffs. Lately Anthony has been on an absolute tear, averaging over 30 points per game, but this has been without Amare Stoudemire in the lineup.

    However, in Sunday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, Anthony (39 PTS, 10 REB, 2 AST) and Stoudemire (22 PTS, 12 REB, 1 BLK) looked like they were working out some of those chemistry issues they have on the court. 

    The Mavericks didn't have this issue heading into last year's playoffs, but could having two scoring options hurt the Knicks in the playoffs? Of course not. It only makes them that much more dangerous if Stoudemire is healthy. 

    The difference between Nowitzki and Anthony right now would be the effort defensively. Nowitzki puts in the necessary effort defensively, whereas it seems like Anthony plays defense only when he feels like it. 

    This is a major difference in the two players and could hurt the Knicks big time in the playoffs, but if Anthony makes the effort defensively, especially since it looks like he will have to play LeBron James, then the Knicks could surprise everyone this postseason. 

    If it comes down to big-time clutch shooting, especially in the fourth quarter, Knicks fans should have confidence in Anthony.

Sixth Man: Jason Terry vs. J.R. Smith

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    One of the most underrated positions on an NBA roster can be the sixth man. Around the league, teams with a solid option off the bench tend to have a successful season. 

    James Harden (Oklahoma City Thunder), Lou Williams (Philadelphia 76ers) and Taj Gibson (Chicago Bulls) all play important roles on their teams regardless of if it's offensively, defensively or just pure energy to spark the team off the bench.

    The Dallas Mavericks have a well known sixth man as well, "The Jet" Jason Terry. Terry won the Sixth Man of the Year award last season and played a pivotal role for the Mavericks in last year's playoffs. 

    For the New York Knicks, their sixth man is J.R. Smith. Smith can be a huge factor in the playoffs if his shot is falling on a consistent basis, although he is not quite as well rounded as Terry and does not play nearly as well defensively. 

    The Knicks will need somebody to score on that second unit, especially if the game plan is going to be to play Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire at the same time. 

    No doubt, Smith has the ability to carry the load offensively, but he is a very streaky shooter. When the shot isn't falling, it's tough to watch, especially since he has so much confidence that he will continue shooting even when it's not falling for him.

    If Smith can keep a hot shooting streak throughout the playoffs, it would bode really well for a deep run in the playoffs for the Knicks. 

The "On-Court" General: Jason Kidd vs. Baron Davis/Mike Bibby

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    That one word just about sums up this slide if you are a Knicks fan. 

    Jason Kidd has been anchoring the backcourt for the Dallas Mavericks since his return to the team in 2008. 

    Kidd is a true floor general, meaning that he is always creating and looking to set up his teammates. Also, Kidd is a great defensive point guard despite losing a step or two in terms of quickness and athleticism. 

    Kidd has been great at generating steals throughout his NBA career, and he also played well for the Mavericks in last year's playoffs. Despite not being mentioned much throughout the title run, his veteran leadership certainly helped the Mavericks to their first NBA title.

    For the New York Knicks heading into this postseason, it looks like either Baron Davis or Mike Bibby will be running the point. This does not bode well for the team.

    It certainly would have been interesting to compare Jeremy Lin to Jason Kidd heading into the playoffs, but Lin will probably not be back in time to play for the Knicks this postseason.

    Baron Davis has stepped in since Jeremy Lin's injury and has not looked good. He is a shell of the Baron Davis he used to be, showing that he doesn't have the same burst or explosiveness he once possessed. 

    Davis has also failed to keep opposing point guards in front of him defensively, which puts more pressure on the Knicks frontcourt, meaning more fouls for Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire. The more time those two have to spend on the bench, the tougher it becomes for the Knicks to defeat the upper echelon teams in the Eastern Conference. 

    Mike Bibby is also clearly not the same player he once was in the NBA. Despite showing some flashes of that perimeter jump shot we have always seen from Bibby, his consistency to make that shot when he is open isn't nearly good enough to say he should start over Davis. 

    Baron Davis and Mike Bibby clearly are not the same type of veteran point guard as Jason Kidd, because they will not be able to lead the Knicks in the postseason. This puts more pressure on the front court of the New York Knicks.

    Carmelo Anthony might have to play some "point forward" if the Knicks hope to be successful in the playoffs. 

Defensive Anchor: Tyson Chandler

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    Tyson Chandler has been called "the glue" that held the Dallas Mavericks together through last year's title run.

    After becoming a free agent, he decided to make his way to the Big Apple and fill a major void in the Knicks' lineup as a defensive-oriented center.

    During this season with the New York Knicks, he has not disappointed. Chandler's season stats (11.3 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG) do not even begin to explain his contributions to this team. 

    Whenever there is a loose ball, Chandler is diving on the floor. During missed shots, Chandler is tipping out offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities. Whenever opposing players slash into the lane, Chandler is there to meet them. Even if he picks up fouls, he stops most easy shots. 

    This is what makes Chandler the MVP of the New York Knicks this season.

    He will be a huge part of the postseason if the Knicks have any intentions of making a run.

    Tyson Chandler has also played through injuries this entire season, and it will be important for him to be as healthy as possible. Without Chandler or Jared Jeffries, who is also injured heading into the playoffs, the Knicks lack any other true center on the roster. 

    The Knicks wouldn't be doomed without Chandler, because they could slide Amare Stoudemire to center and move Carmelo Anthony back to power forward, but defensively this would hurt the team drastically. 

    Hopefully Chandler will be almost 100 percent come playoff time. 

In Conclusion

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    The New York Knicks have some clear comparisons to last year's Dallas Mavericks team. 

    However, there are also some big differences. 

    The Knicks are nowhere near as good defensively as last year's Mavericks squad. They just don't put the effort in defensively on a consistent basis, not counting Tyson Chandler. The Mavericks made that commitment last year, and it resulted in an NBA title. 

    The Mavericks were the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference heading into the playoffs last year, whereas the Knicks will be a low seed in the Eastern Conference this season. 

    The Mavericks were able to play an easier first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, and they were able to build momentum throughout the playoffs. 

    The Knicks will have a much tougher road ahead if they are going to make some noise in the 2011-2012 NBA playoffs, They will likely have to get through the Heat or the Bulls in Round 1, followed by another tough matchup in the second round. 

    However, knocking off one of the top two seeds might give the Knicks great momentum heading into the next round and beyond.