Pre-Game News and Notes
Knicks vs. Cavaliers
After a tough loss against the Heat yesterday afternoon the Knicks will get right back at it tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. This will be a big game for the Knicks as it will show what kind of team they are; a resourceful one that bounces back against adversity or one that will just roll over as it wallows in its poor play. This will be the second of three meetings between the Knicks and Cavaliers this season, with the first matchup being an exciting matchup the Knicks were able to pull out despite the great effort put forth by Kyrie Irving. Here are some things to keep an eye on for the game tonight.
-Knicks Don’t Catch a Break
The Knicks will not catch a break tonight as the aforementioned Kyrie Irving is expected to be in the starting lineup for the Cavaliers tonight after missing the last three games with a hyper-extended knee. This spells trouble for the Knicks who have struggled with opposing guards of any caliber.
In the last meeting Irving put on a show for the Garden crowd, scoring 41 points, including three three pointers during the stretch run of the game to keep the Cavaliers in it. With the Knicks lineup changes they have made recently expect to see Iman Shumpert guarding Irving from the start and as long as both of them are on the court together.
-Roll with What Works
Sunday afternoon against the Heat the Knicks had success on the pick-and-roll, averaging 1.11 points per possession they ran it. Usually the main roller on those plays is Tyson Chandler, but yesterday the Knicks utilized Carmelo Anthony as the ball handler and Amar’e Stoudemire as the screener and finisher.
This was a great wrinkle added as Anthony is as deadly a one-on-one player as anyone in the NBA and getting a big man switched onto him would make that even easier. On the flipside, Stoudemire as augmented his game inside and has become a force, scoring against big men or smaller players on the switch with ease.
Stoudemire has continued to grow more comfortable with his role and embrace his role, as he has shown off a number of new post moves and an improving jump shot. The only problem with Stoudemire right now is how he is being utilized, as Mike Woodson is not giving him as many minutes as he deserves right now.
-Not Only Irving to Keep an Eye On
The Cavaliers team revolves and goes as Irving goes, but that does not mean they do not have other players the Knicks must keep an eye on. One player who could give the Knicks fits is another perimeter player in guard Dion Waiters. The Knicks have not faced Waiters yet, as he sat out the first meeting with an injury, but he is definitely capable of causing some headaches.
Waiters has been coming on strong recently, averaging 20.6 points per game in his last five outings, three of which were played without Irving in which he scored 17, 23 and 25 points. Waiters has a diverse offensive game as he is strong enough to get to the paint but is capable of shooting it from deep as well. Raymond Felton and Shumpert will have their hands full tonight no matter who matches up on whom.