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The week ahead for the Cleveland Cavaliers: Returning to New York

The Cavs are again on the road before a Sunday home game against the Clippers.

Cleveland Cavaliers v New York Knicks Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s another road trip for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Starting on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks, the Cavs play three games on the road this week before returning home on Sunday. Opponent wise, it’s a manageable week, even with the travel. Getting the Rockets as a part of a back-to-back, for instance, makes that much more manageable than another back-to-back would be.

Tuesday: Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks

Previous matchups: On Dec. 4, the Cavs lost in New York 92-81. In a much anticipated Madison Square Garden arrival for Donovan Mitchell after he didn’t end up with the Knicks in the summer, Mitchell finished with 23 points and 8-22 from the field.

Knicks rankings via Cleaning The Glass: Ninth in net rating (+1.8 per 100 possessions), sixth in offense (116.6), 18th in defensive rating (114.8)

Opposing player to watch: Julius Randle. For starters, Evan Mobley will likely guard him and it’s always fun to watch Mobley defend more bruising bigs like Randle. Secondly, Randle is having something of a return to form to the 2020-21 season after a down year last year. Last time these teams played, he finished 7-19 from the field.

Stat to know: 22.9% — that’s what the Cavs shot from three on Dec. 4. That includes a combined 5-20 mark for Mitchell and Darius Garland.

Thursday: Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets

Previous matchups: These two teams have not played this season.

Rockets rankings via Cleaning The Glass: 29th in net rating (-8.3 per 100 possessions), 30th in offense (109.6), 28th in defense (117.9)

Opposing player to watch: Alperen Sengun, who will 100% make a few highlight reel passes in this game, but it also a defensive liability who the Cavs can pick on with Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley inside.

Stat to know: Jalen Green, picked a spot ahead of Evan Mobley, has a 47.9% eFG% on a 28.4% usage rate. He is not having an efficient season and, at least statistically, is less efficient than last year.

Friday: Cleveland Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder

Previous matchups: On Dec. 10, the Cavs beat the Thunder 110-102 in Cleveland. Donovan Mitchell did not play. Caris LeVert, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen each scored 20-plus points.

Thunder rankings via Cleaning The Glass: 17th in net rating (+0.2 per 100 possessions), 20th in offense (113.4), ninth in defense (113.2)

Opposing player to watch: Kenrich Williams. It’s highly doubtful Williams is available on the trade market (he’s both good and just signed a very affordable extension with the Thunder), but when watching him, it’s fun to imagine him as 3.5-sized forward for the Cavs.

Stat to know: 10.3% — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s usage rate. SGA is having an All-NBA year buoyed by using his frame to score efficiently inside and his very low turnover rate. Per Cleaning The Glass, his turnover rate is in the top-eight percent of point guards this season.

Friday: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Previous matchups: On Nov. 7, as the Cavs were on an early West Coast road trip, they lost 119-117 to the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard did not play for the Clippers, but Paul George did.

Clippers rankings via Cleaning The Glass: 24th in net rating (-1.7 per 100 possessions). 26th in offense (111.7), 10th in defense (113.3)

Opposing player to watch: Jason Preston. There’s no way to know if Kawhi Leonard will play this far out, but he’s the guy to watch. He’s still capable of the incredible.

Stat to know: In 739 minutes on vs. 1,624 minutes off, the Clippers are +10.2 points better per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor.