Things have been difficult for the Cleveland Cavaliers lately. With both Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose sidelined, the team has been experimenting with different lineups to try to make up for the lack of play-making. However, miscommunication and a lack of familiarity has dramatically impacted the execution as of late. The Cavs are just 1-3 over their last four games and look to get back in the win column against the lowly New York Knicks.
Who: New York Knicks (1-3) at Cleveland Cavaliers (3-3)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Enemy Blog: Posting and Toasting
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Online: Fox Sports GO, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Derrick Rose (TBD - ankle sprain)
Knicks injuries: Ron Baker (TBD - knee)
Three keys to the game:
- While the Cavaliers are on the second night of a back to back, they did waive the white flag after three quarters against the Pelicans and shouldn’t be too fatigued. While Kristaps Porzingis is a handful, the Knicks big man rotation isn’t exactly as imposing as the combination of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Tristan Thompson traditionally has done a good job of defending Porzingis, giving him an opportunity to bounce back from being put in the blender defensively by the Pelicans versatile big men. If you contain Porzingis, the Knicks simply don’t have the firepower to come away with a victory.
- Show some signs of life. Things would be a lot easier for the Cavaliers if their key contributors weren’t struggling so much to start the season. Kevin Love came up with a strong performance against the Pelicans, however J.R. Smith is still struggling to find his outside shot. Most of what the Cavs do is enabled by the threat of their outside shooting. But when that shot isn’t falling, the team’s offense looks disjointed and things become more difficult than they need to be.
- Once again, the Cavs are among one of the worst defenses in the league and the insertion of Thompson into the starting lineup hasn’t changed things. The duo of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson have had a -7.7 net rating through 72 minutes and an embarrassing defensive rating of 118.6, per nba.com/stats. The front court trio of James, Love and Thompson has produced most of the Cavs best lineups over the last few years. They need to rediscover their chemistry and provide stability to a roster that has dealt with a tremendous amount of turnover. Enough with the tinkering, the Cavs simply need their best players to play better. While the jump shooting may come and go at times, if the team wants to right the ship it’ll need to start on the defensive end.
Kristaps Porzingis vs. Tristan Thompson. If you can limit Porzingis, you take the venom out of the Knicks offensively. The Cavs beat the Knicks by an average margin of victory of 20.8 through four games last season, and a big part of that was due to holding Porzingis to just 35.4 percent shooting from the floor in those games. There won’t be many opportunities as good as this one for the team to turn things around defensively and gain some momentum and confidence on that end of the floor.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
There’s a lot of pride on this Cavs roster and the frustration the team has experienced lately hasn’t exactly been hidden. Hosting a young and inexperienced Knicks team may be exactly what the doctor ordered for a struggling Cavs squad. Kevin Love and LeBron James lead the way for a 110-95 win.