The shorthanded, but reinforced Cavs, will look to bounce back against the New York Knicks. Tonight’s game could provide our first look at Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince. They didn’t practice Thursday, but did arrive in Cleveland yesterday.
How to watch:
Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, and NBA League Pass.
Time to run through the laundry list of injuries. The Cavs will once again be without Collin Sexton (ankle), Kevin Love (calf), Dylan Windler (hand), Darius Garland (shoulder), Matthew Dellavedova (concussion), and Kevin Porter Jr. (personal). Andre Drummond is probable for tonight’s game, but you never know with the way things are going. Assuming Drummond plays, we should see Allen come off the bench if he plays.
Cavs: Damyean Dotson / Cedi Osman / Isaac Okoro / Larry Nance Jr. / Andre Drummond
Knicks: Austin Rivers / Elfrid Payton / RJ Barrett / Julius Randle / Mitchell Robinson
Things to watch for:
- Julius Randle vs. The Trees: Julius Randle is the Knicks offense. Randle is averaging 22.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 9.4 boards per game with a 53.7 effective field goal percentage. He’s also averaging an insane 37.4 minutes per night. Randle does his best work with his back to the basket. Fortunately, the Cavs have a lot of bodies to throw at him. I’d expect Drummond, Nance, Allen ,and JaVale McGee to each get a chance to stop Randle. We’ll see if the Cavs depth can wear down Randle over the course of the game. If they can, the Cavs could sneak out a win even with their depleted backcourt.
- Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince’s defensive fit: The Cavs have slipped all the way to third in defensive rating thanks to their ugly loss to the Jazz earlier this week. Koby Altman wasn’t going to let that slid so he brought in reinforcements. We won’t get a good idea of how Allen and Prince will fit into the offense since their roles will change significantly once Sexton, Garland, and company return. However, we should still get a good idea of how they fit defensively. Allen has the perfect skillset for this defense and it’ll be fun to see how quickly J.B. Bickerstaff can incorporate him and Prince on that end of the floor.
- Time for some 90s basketball: The Cavs and Knicks are 29th and 30th in three-point attempts, 30th and 28th in offensive rating, and 27th and 30th in pace of play. This is going to be a slow, grind it out, low scoring, back-to-the-basket, half-court game. You know, the way basketball is supposed to be played. If that’s your brand of basketball, then you’re in for a treat. That’s not my cup of tea, but to each their own.
- Last chance for crazy lineups: This could be Bickerstaff’s last opportunity to run some absurdly tall lineups. There’s a good chance the Cavs won’t play again until next Wednesday considering their games on Sunday and Monday will presumably get postponed due to the Wizards’ Covid outbreak. I think we can assume, or at least hope, that the Cavs will have some of their backcourt back by next Wednesday. That means this is the last time Bickerstaff has a legitimate excuse to run out a two center, two power forward lineup and you know he isn’t going to pass up on a chance like that. Especially considering his opponent’s style of play. I’m ready for a nice Drummond/Allen/Nance/Prince lineup to closeout the homestand and get the Cavs back to being the top defense in the league.