The Cleveland Cavaliers are on the road to play the New York Knicks on Sunday, but they get the advantage of the Knicks having played on Saturday afternoon. Oh, and it’s Donovan Mitchell playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time since the Knicks didn’t trade ofr him in the summer.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (15-8) at New York Knicks (10-12)
Where: Cleveland, Ohio - Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports+, NBA League Pass
Spread (via DraftKings): Cavs -3
Opposing blog: Posting & Toasting
Cavs expected starting lineup: Darius Garland / Donovan Mitchell / Lamar Stevens / Mamadi Diakite /Evan Mobley
Cavs’ injury report: Jarrett Allen (OUT - low back contusion), Ricky Rubio (OUT - ACL recovery), Dean Wade (OUT - shoulder sprain), Dylan Windler (OUT - ankle sprain), Isaiah Mobley (OUT - two-way assignment)
Knicks expected starting lineup: Quentin Grimes/Jalen Brunson/RJ Barrett/Julius Randle/Mitchell Robinson
Knicks injury report: Not announced at time of publication
What to watch for
Mamadi Diakite era. Ok, era is a strong word. But with Dean Wade’s shoulder issue putting him on the sideline, it would seem Diakite is in line for minutes.
At the NBA level this year, has played active in a very small sample size. In nine games (one start), he averaged 2.7 points per game and 1 rebound in 7.7 minutes per game. His best trait is that he’s active — Diakite is always moving, always trying to make a play. He’s also a willing shooter — 1.2 three-pointers per game in his small chunk of minutes and he’s making 36.4% of his attempts.
It’s unclear if he’ll start of not — although it would makes sense if he did as someone to throw at Julius Randle so Mobley can play on Mitchell Robinson. (Or, if they want to get weird, vice versa.) Diakite has been a fun find on a two-way for a team that has needed emergency depth this year.
Donovan Mitchell, on display. There’s no way around the fact that Mitchell is going to be at the center of this game. Him ending up with the Cavs and not the Knicks was a surprise to him — he’s said as much. This came up when Cleveland played the Knicks earlier this year and it’s going to come up again now that it’s at Madison Square Garden with the full hoard of New York media likely asking questions.
Best guess about how this goes: Mitchell cooks at MSG. It would not be surprising if Mitchell goes out and drops 40 or 50 points. He’s that kind of player and this is the kind of stage that calls for a big time monster scoring performance. He’s -135 to score over 25.5 points at DraftKings, for what’s it’s worth.
Evan Mobley vs. Mitchell Robinson. Evan Mobley’s last four games have been highly efficient. He’s not 50% or better in all four and has missed a combined 3 shots out of 20 possible attempts in his last two. His worst game in this stretch — 7-14 from the field against Toronto — looks better when you take out his 0-4 three-point mark and see he went 7-10 inside the arc.
Now, Mobley goes up against a large seven-footer in Mitchell Robinson who will be around the rim every time Mobley is in that spot. (Isaiah Hartenstein isn’t a slouch either off of the bench.) Let’s see how Mobley looks here, in this spot.