After breaking their three game losing streak on Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in New York tonight to take on the Knicks. They’ll be without J.R. Smith, who suffered a hyperextended left knee against the Raptors and is listed as day-to-day.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Madison Square Garden - New York, New York
Enemy Blog: Posting and Toasting
Music: Joey Bada$$ - Waves
Keys to the game
- Starting in Smith’s place will be DeAndre Liggins - not Iman Shumpert or Richard Jefferson. This makes some sense, as continuing to bring Shumpert and Jefferson off the bench allows the rotation to largely stay the same, even if both players play more in Smith’s absence. Plus, Liggins played decently in 21 minutes on Monday and this could be a chance to see if he can contribute at all or at least deserves a chance to prove he deserves more minutes.
- Currently, the Knicks are 12-9, have won four straight and are fifth in the East. They also have the same record as the Celtics and Hornets. Their standing in the East may point more to the fact that are playing the weaker conference (based on winning percentage, New York would be the eighth seed in the West), but they are playing good lately. Last night, they beat the Heat by 11.
- It’s currently unclear if Derrick Rose will play against the Cavs, as he left last night’s game with back spasms.
- “It calmed down, it just spasmed. Usually when you have back problems, or back spasms, it comes from somewhere else and tonight my right side, my right leg, everything was fatiguing kind of quick," Rose said, per ESPN. "Tomorrow, we'll be able to tell what it is."
- The Cavs thrashed the Knicks on opening night when these teams last played. In a 117-88 win, Cleveland (predictably) relied on big nights from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to lead the way. LeBron, almost causally, posted a triple-double.
- On opening night, Love shot just 40 percent from the field despite finishing with 23 points and 12 rebounds. For the year, he’s averaging 21.4 points while shooting 45 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from three. Additionally, Love should have favorable matchups tonight. If Joakim Noah defends him, he should be able to take him off the dribble. If the Knicks go small and Carmelo Anthony defends him, he should be able to score wherever he gets the ball. New York’s best option to defend Love might be Kristaps Porzingis, but we might not see that matchup until late or if Love sees time at the five.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavs are clearly better than the Knicks, even without Smith. It might be a closer game this time around - particularly if Cleveland doesn’t play with effort on defense - but the Cavs should still win this game. Cavs 105, Knicks 94.