Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks: Stop the 3-Ball, Save the World

Bruce Bennett

No Linsanity? No problem. The New York Knicks have been just fine since letting Jeremy Lin sign with the Houston Rockets in the off-season. A cast of veterans surround a solid defensive core and have led the New York Knicks to one of the best records in the NBA.

Raise your hand if you thoughts Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas were still in the league. Now put your hands down because you're liars, maybe. I'll admit that I was skeptical when the New York Knicks decided to sign every player over the age of 35 during the offseason, but apparently it worked for them. Maybe they have some really great prune juice that they provide for their elderly players or maybe Mike Woodson is good friends with Biff and they stole the Delorean. Whatever it is, the Knicks are playing some great basketball. Hopefully they suck tonight.

Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (5-19) at New York Knicks (17-5)

When? 7:30 PM Eastern

Where? Madison Square Garden -- New York, NY

Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass

Tickets?

Cleveland Cavaliers tickets

Injuries and such? Dion Waiters is cleared to play, but has to practice before he will return to games. The Cavs haven't practiced and therefore, Dion is still OUT tonight against New York. Carmelo Anthony suffered an ankle injury in the Knicks' win over the Lakers and is OUT for tonight's game.

The enemy/brother blog of the Knicks? Posting and Toasting

The line? New York -10.5

Music!?

It's always fun to beat New York:

The New York Knicks are still undefeated at home this year. Do you guys know how much I would like to make them not undefeated at home this year? The answer is a lot. I don't like the Knicks and I don't really like big markets in general, so therefore it would be fun to see them lose. Make sense? Good.

Without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks are not as good. He's been surprisingly efficient this season and some have been touting him as the MVP of the entire league. While that's not correct (LeBron James and Kevin Durant have been better, in my opinion), he's certainly been spectacular. His ridiculous and likely unsustainable three-point shooting is the biggest contributor to his increased production. Melo is a career 33% shooter from distance and has been converting at a rate of 45.5% this season. That's probably going to come down a bit.

Similarly, the Knicks have been launching threes line no one's business. They have shot 641 threes as a team (easily first in the league) and are shooting 41.2% on those attempts. Needless to say, that's pretty damn good. They are getting contributions from guys like Steve Novak, Jason Kidd, and Raymond Felton -- all of whom are shooting percentages well over their career average. In order to beat the Knicks tonight, the Cavs will need to close out on shooters and close out hard. Don't worry about a pump-fake from a guy like Jason Kidd or Steve Novak. They aren't going to put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket with any regularity. Typically, if they're catching the ball on the perimeter, that three is going up. The Cavs have defended the three relatively well this year, with opponents shooting 35.6% from deep, right around league average. If they can hold the Knicks to a reasonable percentage, they ought to have a chance.

The Cavaliers' biggest problems on defensive came inside the painted area. Without Carmelo, the Knicks are slightly lacking in guys who will break you down off the dribble and score in the paint. JR Smith has that ability and so does Raymond Felton, but the list more or less stops there. If Cleveland can limit penetration and threes, the Knicks can be beaten. Tyson Chandler is a monster, but he isn't the type of offensive threat that gives Anderson Varejao or Tristan Thompson trouble. He isn't going to step out and make 20-foot jump shots. If the Cavs' bigs can stay out of foul trouble or better yet, get Tyson into foul trouble, it will be a manageable matchup.

I couldn't finish a preview without talking about turnovers. The Cavs committed roughly 29583570937605830582985 turnovers against the Milwaukee Bucks and predictably lost that game. The Knicks are the best team in the league at NOT turning the ball over. If you are able to get the Knicks into the open court, the Cavs should be able to have some success with their young athletes running against the older Knicks. Ultimately, if the Cavs can force turnovers (no easy task) and push the pace, they'll have a better chance of giving New York its first loss at home.

Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:

I'm predicting a win because I'm insane. Without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks really rely on the three-ball. Even though the Cavs are playing their fourth game in five nights, I think they'll push the ball in the open court and try to force the Knicks to run with them. Raymond Felton can't stay in front of a tortoise and Kyrie Irving is faster than a tortoise. Cavs win 105-100.

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