The Cleveland Cavaliers will welcome the New York Knicks to town on Tuesday night. This is a highly anticipated battle between two Eastern Conference powers. Two teams will enter, only one team will leave with a victory. Who will it be? Dun dun!
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (7-13) vs. New York Knicks (5-14)
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
What do I have to say about these two teams? Quite a bit, actually. Both are clearly underachieving by a ton. The Knicks were a very high seed in the Eastern Conference last year and are now among the absolute worst teams. They just lost by a billion to the Boston Celtics. At least the Cavs only lost to the Celtics by half a billion. What's the problem with the Knicks? For one, their defense is atrocious. They rank 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. A lot of that has to do with the fact that former DPOY Tyson Chandler is out with injury, so that should improve once he comes back. The offense, on the other hand, is a different issue. They rank 19th in the NBA in offensive efficiency after they ranked 3rd last season.
What's wrong with the offense? To get a full answer to that question, you'd have to ask somebody that watches every Knicks game on a consistent basis. But from what I've seen this season, the two main problems are their lack of ball movement and lack of three-point shooting. Naturally, those two things are related. After shooting the most threes in the league last season, they're just 9th in the league this year. Some of that has to do with the number of games played, but it's clear that they aren't shooting as many as they did last year. Furthermore, they aren't making those three pointers at the same rate. As a team, the Knicks shot 37.6% from deep in 2012-13. In 2013-14, they're shooting just 35.1%. It's not a huge difference, but it's the difference between an elite three-point shooting team and a mediocre one.
The ball movement problem is something that the Cavaliers can relate to. It's not hard to watch both of these teams and recognize that their players need to stop trying to go one on one so often. For the Knicks, it starts with Carmelo Anthony. He'll win you some games, but he can totally disrupt the flow of your offense. I'm not sure if that's going to get better as long as Mike Woodson is the coach. I don't think the Cavs are as fundamentally flawed as the Knicks, but they could be headed in that direction. There's hope for the Cavs because they are a young team that is still working it out and trying to play as a team. There's hope for the Knicks because they were successful last year with a relatively similar core. We'll see if either team can get on track tonight.
But enough about these teams in general...
Let's talk about Dion Waiters and JR Smith!
Hitting up the Cavs game tonight, fingers crossed it turns into a JR Smith vs Dion Waiters battle.— Big Daddy Cool Dad (@Nominataur) December 10, 2013
Fans of both teams would hate this, but it would be hilariously awesome to watch.
We might be looking at the future of Dion Waiters in tonight's game. And by that I mean, it's very possible that his career follows the same general arc as that of JR Smith. He could end up being a volume scorer off the bench with a tendency to take bad shots. It was good enough to get Smith the 6th Man of the Year award last season, but it's not clear how much that actually helps your team win.
Alternatively, we could be looking at the future of Dion Waiters in the form of Iman Shumpert. There were rumors that the Cavs were looking to trade Waiters and the Knicks would be one of the potential trade partners. Any deal that occurred between those two teams would likely involve swapping Waiters and Shumpert. Shumpert is a defensive-minded player that doesn't require the ball as much on offense. He'd probably fit better on a Mike Brown team as well as next to Kyrie Irving. But I would argue that Waiters has the higher ceiling of the two young shooting guards. If Dion can avoid going down the JR Smith route of development, he could be better than a 3-and-D role player.
But for now, it'd be entertaining to watch Waiters and Smith go back and forth tonight.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
The Cavs are beyond horrible on the road. But they're actually kind of decent at home. The Knicks are a mess right now so I think the Cavs will actually win. Weird. 97-92.