Fresh off Tuesday night's win over the Milwaukee Bucks, their fourth straight, the Cleveland Cavaliers look to have righted the ship to an extent. Now slated fifth in the Eastern Conference, the Cavs have their offense humming, the defense has risen to around league average in efficiency, and are getting consistent play from the big three. Things are beginning look like we imagined they would at the beginning of the season.
Speaking of the beginning of the season, the Cavs now get another shot at the team that beat them on opening night in Cleveland, the New York Knicks. The Knicks have won just three games since that night, which was weird and chaotic and dumb. The Cavs get to attempt to correct for that loss tonight.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
When: 8:00PM EST
Where: Madison Square Garden - New York City
Audio/Visual Stimulation: TNT
Music: Halo - Danilo Gallinari ft. Al Harrington
This might be the greatest thing the Knicks have produced in this millennium.
This should be a slight market correction. No one's really sure how to explain the Knicks beating the Cavs on opening night. Granted, the excuses like "It was their first game together!" and "LeBron got overwhelmed by the moment!" make sense, but that isn't enough to explain how the Knicks got 5-6 shooting from Jason Smith, or how the Cavs let a team led in assists by J.R. Smith win, or how Travis Wear was not just effective but even how Travis Wear as an NBA player is a thing that exists. Given how the Cavs' offense has rounded into shape, and that the Knicks defense is currently 26th in efficiency, this game should hopefully make more sense.
Because Sweet Jesus is this team bad. The Knicks' last non-Philadelphia 76ers win was November 14th against the Denver Nuggets. Since then they've dropped seven of eight, they've lost by 16 to a Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves team, and they posted consecutive 78 and 79-point efforts against Oklahoma City and Miami over the weekend. Their third leading scorer is Iman Shumpert. Travis Wear is their only player with a positive on-court net rating. Carmelo Anthony is somehow only taking 19 shots per game on a team that has started Quincy Acy twelve times. I mean......... yeah.
That all said.....Don't rule shenanigans out. I still don't trust National TV Cavs yet, as they're 2-4 on the season in national broadcasts. The Knicks also have the type of game plan offensively that is a weird mismatch for the Cavs; they shoot a ton of mid-range shots and can generate shots in the paint, and they are a solid offensive rebounding team. They take the shots the Cavs' defense has been allowing, and if they get stupid-hot, which they can do with Melo and J.R. around, the Cavs could be in for a surprisingly tough challenge.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction: Three things work in the Cavs' favor tonight: One, the Knicks offense has cratered since Jose Calderon rejoined the lineup; Two, the Cavs' offense is going to vivisect this defense, and there will be oh so much blood on that end of the floor; And three, J.R. might not play as he recovers from
A really rough weekend bender "flu-like symptoms" that kept him out of the Brooklyn game. Without their chief shenanigans catalyst, this should end something like Cavs 116, Knicks 96.