A five-game NBA slate on Monday is headlined by the Dallas Mavericks visiting New York City, where they face a Knicks team that grows more desperate by the day.
The main course: Mavericks vs. Knicks
7:30 p.m. ET, NBATV
Carmelo Anthony can try all he can. His big scoring nights haven't turned into wins for the New York Knicks. New York is 2-8 in February and took another hit to its chances of righting the ship when guard Iman Shumpert went down with a tweaked MCL.
So the Knicks push on without their best perimeter defender, and they face a Mavericks team on Monday led by one of the NBA's best slashers.
Monta Ellis will prove a difficult man to stop, especially without Shumpert, but it's not only his ability to get to the rim that threatens New York. It's Ellis' ability to penetrate and kick to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs' shooters that should worry Knicks coach Mike Woodson. Ellis is coming off a savvy 13-assist performance where he acted as distributor until the fourth quarter, when his scoring finally took off. He added 10 points as Dallas dropped the Detroit Pistons 113-102 on Saturday.
That all said, the Knicks did beat the Mavericks 92-80 back on Jan. 5.
The appetizer: Warriors vs. Pistons
7:30 p.m. ET
No matter who's in the starting lineup for coach Mark Jackson, the Golden State Warriors are going to show up. Center Jermaine O'Neal has filled in for injured Andrew Bogut looking like the All-Star caliber player of old, not a big man whose tread has come off the tires. O'Neal scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets last time out, and a game before that he helped the Warriors to a win against Houston with a late-game shot-block.
O'Neal will be tested by Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and the athletic Pistons front line. The Pistons have lost four of their last five, but much-maligned forward Josh Smith is coming off his most efficient game of the year. He scored 32 points on 14-of-20 shooting against Dallas.
The dessert: Clippers vs. Pelicans
8 p.m. ET
The Pelicans are floundering, to say the least. They've dropped three games in a row heading into the Monday matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers, and those losses came against the Knicks, Bobcats and Wizards — not exactly the most daunting opponents.
It's probable the Clippers will only be fighting a letdown. Los Angeles put together a big 125-117 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, which snapped a two-game skid against well-established Western Conference teams in San Antonio and Memphis. Doc Rivers' bench is questionable, but there's nothing wrong with a starting lineup of Chris Paul, Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.