By JOSH NEWMAN
Special to ZAGSBLOG
NEW YORK — The Knicks may be 4-0 and off to their best since the 1993-94 season after a 104-94 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday evening, but no one is planning to head to the Canyon of Heroes in late June just yet.
However, one of the two Knicks who owns a championship ring is at least admitting that this team, chock-full of veterans, is similar to a championship team of the not-so-distant past.
“It definitely reminds me of the chemistry, the personalities, the personnel that we had,” Tyson Chandler said in comparing these Knicks to his 2011 world champion Mavericks. “We were just really deep on that team. We hit teams in waves and teams couldn’t really catch up with it. Our first and second unit, it’s the same thing here, we have great depth and that has to be our weapon.”
Chandler, who was teammates with Jason Kidd on that Mavs team as well as this Knicks team, was the defensive anchor on that championship team, which featured seven players with at least 10 years of experience at the time. Chandler and Brendan Haywood each had nine years under their respective belts.
That Mavs team went 57-25 during the regular season and behind a career-defining series from Dirk Nowitzki, defeated the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in six games for the franchise’s first NBA title.
Four games is not nearly a big enough sample to start putting the Knicks in the same category as a recent title team, but there are unmistakable similarities.
Behind Chandler, that Mavs team was 10th in the NBA in opponent points per game at 96.0. Entering Friday night, this Knicks team was the top defensive team in the league, yielding just 85.4 points per game over their first three contests. After a poor defensive showing in the second quarter Friday night, they gave up just 37 points in the second half.
That Mavs team rode veteran savvy and great play from its star the whole way. This Knicks team has six players with at least 10 years of experience and three with an amazing 16 years or more of service. As for star-play, Carmelo Anthony has played that role brilliantly so far. He is averaging 26 points and 7.3 rebounds through four games.
“Honestly, I feel like with the unit we have, veteran leadership, guys coming in early, I really feel like the guys want it this year,” Chandler said. “I honestly expected us to get off to a good start, it’s just about continuing it.”