The timing of Thursday’s game really couldn’t be more perfect. The Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks have been linked together as a possible trade destination for Carmelo Anthony since LeBron James returned to Cleveland. With no realistic way to accomplish this move while improving the team, the most likely scenario is Thursday will be another showdown between James and Anthony. Operating under that assumption, let’s dive into a preview for two team’s that will likely look somewhat different by the time the ball is tipped off.
Who? New York Knicks (23-34) at Cleveland Cavaliers (39-16)
When? 8PM ET
Where? Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? TNT
There isn’t too much change for the Cavaliers heading into this one. Kevin Love is still out recovering from a knee scope. Derrick Williams signed his second ten-day contract on Wednesday, so he’ll once again absorb a large portion of Love’s minutes.
The Cavaliers were rolling heading into the All-Star break, winners of seven of their last eight games. The Knicks have been a relatively easy match-up for the Cavs in the past. This game serves as a perfect opportunity to shake off some rust and get back into a rhythm against an opponent that the Cavs feel comfortable playing against.
I’m hesitant to go too in-depth about game planning for the Knicks, given the state of flux the team is in. If the rumors are to be believed, Derrick Rose will likely be moved at the deadline. While Anthony to the Cavs remains incredibly unlikely, there’s still a chance he is moved to another team.
The one face that won’t be moved on Thursday is Kristaps Porzingis. His 7-3 frame and ability to move like a wing player is a huge match-up problem for the Cavs, who’s roster puts a premium on mobility over size. This season the Cavs have done a good job on Porzingis, holding him to 12.3 points and 6 rebounds per game on 34.2 percent shooting through three games. However that doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess the skill-set to put a strain on the Cavs defense, especially if they come out flat.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
I think the Cavs come out guns blazing in this game. I think the All-Star break was needed from a rest standpoint, and this is typically the time of year that LeBron starts pushing himself to gear up for the playoffs. While it may take some time before the jumpers start falling, I expect the team to play with energy and attack both in transition and on defense. Cavs win 117-102.