Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York.
Enemy Blog: Posting and Toasting
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Online: NBA League Pass, Fox Sports GO
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Tristan Thompson (OUT - left calf), Derrick Rose (TBD - ankle sprain/soreness)
Knicks injuries: None
Three Keys to the game
- The Knicks are off to a fast start without Carmelo Anthony, heavily leaning on their young superstar — Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian forward has been leading the way for New York, scoring 30.4 points and grabbing 7.3 rebounds per game on 51 percent shooting from the field and 42 percent from three-point range. Porzingis has always been a problem for Kevin Love and the Cavaliers and he’ll be the focal point of the Cavs’ defense tonight. In their first meeting, Porzingis torched the Cavaliers, scoring 32 points and getting 12 boards.
- The Cavaliers’ main problem that has plagued them these past few seasons is playing down to the level of their competition. Their wins have come against Boston, Milwaukee, Dallas and Washington. Their losses have come against Orlando, Brooklyn, Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, New York and Houston. Cleveland continually gets up for the better teams in the league, but takes the worse teams too lightly. They’ll need to start fast tonight, otherwise it could be another defeat at the hands of Porzingis and the Knicks.
- Cleveland needs to get the three-point shot going again. In their first date against New York, the Cavaliers hot 10-for-33 from deep, a mark that just won’t cut it on a nightly basis. They’ve been better as of late, especially with J.R. Smith’s shooting woes in the rear-view mirror. A lot of their early season struggles have been around the three-point shot. They’re struggling to make them and defend them on the other end. If they can consistently knock down three-pointers, it’ll start to free up even more driving lanes for LeBron and Co.
While Porzingis is seemingly the biggest threat on paper, Tim Hardaway Jr. was scorching hot against Cleveland in their first meeting, adding 34 points, knocking down 5-of-10 three-pointers. J.R. Smith and Jae Crowder will need to work hard on the defensive end, containing the Knicks’ best perimeter player.
FearTheSword’s Fearless Prediction
I’m slightly nervous picking the Cavaliers against a bad team these days, but LeBron James in Madison Square Garden means that there’s the potential for fireworks. Cleveland’s the better squad and should win. Cavs 108, Knicks 99.