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The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the New York Knicks tonight at the Q. Will Kyrie Irving play after missing a few games with a sore knee? Will Iman Shumpert show how much better than Dion Waiters he is? Let's find out.
Cleveland, I am here. The first of three games that I actually get to cover in person takes place tonight when the Cavs and Knickerbockers face off at the Q.
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
Enemy/brother blog? Posting and Toasting
So, what's going on with Kyrie Irving?
The Cavs' superstar point guard has missed the past three games with what the team is calling a "sore/hyperextended" right knee. He has practiced with the team on both Saturday and Sunday and is expected to play tonight against the Knicks, barring any setbacks. We'll have the word from shootaround early this afternoon and if he looks okay, then he should be good to go against the Knicks. I expect him to play.
Furthermore, it is Kyrie Irving/Uncle Drew bobblehead night at the Q. He wouldn't dare miss that. And you shouldn't either.
Are the Knicks actually good or what?
I honestly don't know. They were really good at the beginning of the season, but have since fallen off quite a bit. They're still hanging around the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but right now it looks like the Pacers and maybe even the Hawks are better teams.
Since the beginning of 2013, the Knicks are a modest 14-12 and just 5-5 on the road. The Knicks' defense has fallen off quite a bit since their hot start to the season and is now pretty average/below average. New York has trouble keeping guards out of the paint, like, really badly. They basically make any moderately competent guard look like an all star. And considering the fact that Kyrie is actually an all star, this could be a huge game for Uncle Drew.
What's the deal with the Dion Waiters vs. Iman Shumpert thing?
Oh that? That's just a little running joke on the Twitters and stuff. Matt Moore of CBS Sports (and several other people) said that they would rather have Iman Shumpert than Dion Waiters for the next 5 years or so. The argument was that Shumpert had already showed that he has a valuable NBA skill (perimeter defense) and that Dion hadn't showed the ability to do anything consistently. And when you look at Dion's first portion of the season, it's hard to argue with that. I predict that those opinions might have changed a little bit in the wake of Waiters' last 25 games.
Regardless, it will be interesting to see if we get those two going up against each other at all tonight. I would assume that Shump would take on the duty of trying to contain Kyrie, but it still might happen when Kyrie sits and Dion runs the show for a bit. Shumpert defense isn't really near the levels that it was last season and that's mostly thanks to the fact that he tore his ACL on the first day of the playoffs. He's slowly working back and has looked a bit better lately. But he obviously has a ways to go before he regains all of his lateral agility that made him such a solid defender. No matter the matchup, I want to see Dion continue his stretch of efficient games so that I can (playfully) troll Knicks fans on Twitter.
So about that Carmelo Anthony guy...
Yeah, what about him? He's a pretty good player. More seriously, he's a fantastic scorer that can be devastating if he gets into the right spots. The Cavaliers will naturally put Alonzo Gee on Melo for most of the game and see if he can slow him down at all. Melo's most effective when he gets into the low block because he's simply too strong and too fast for most people to reasonably guard. If Anthony is able to get the 3-ball working and get to the line consistently, watch out.
The Knicks shoot a crapload of threes and Byron Scott knows this. They also throw a bunch of lobs to Tyson Chandler. The Cavs will try to limit some of these things, but it's virtually impossible to take away all of them. Without Anderson Varejao, the Cavs will have a tough time on the boards against Chandler. He's simply enormous and has an uncanny ability to tap out offensive rebounds to get the Knicks extra possessions. Good luck, Tyler Zeller.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
As I said, I will be at this game. That means that the Cavaliers will win, I think. The Knicks played yesterday in a tough game against the Heat. The Cavaliers have been off since Friday. Without Shumpert playing at his full ability, the Knicks are relying on Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd to check some of the Cavs' guards. I don't see that going very well for New York. Cavs win 111-105.