New York Knicks (20-38) vs
Cleveland Cavaliers (46-14)
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Monday, March 1, 2010
7:00 PM EST
I’ll be honest, this isn’t the happiest point of the season for the Cavaliers and their fans. We’re still waiting for Z to come back, now we find out Shaq will be out 8 weeks recovering from his thumb surgery. Then you add the fact that LeBron is currently hobbled with the thigh injury he suffered against Toronto, and factor in the fact the Cavaliers are playing the Knicks, so every NBA site of course feels the need to talk about LeBron going there. All these things just add up to a somewhat gloomy and overcast feeling right now. But under the surface, there’s plenty of good things happening, too. Leon Powe has returned and is going to be seeing a lot of playing time, Antawn Jamison continues to look better and better every game, and whereas it initially looked like Hickson’s development was going to be halted due to the depth on the team, now he’s going to continue to get the minutes he needs to further his improvement. Hopefully the Cavaliers can provide fans another uplifting moment by showing the Knicks precisely what all these “inferior role players” on the Cavs are capable of doing.
Projected Starting Lineups
New York Knicks:
-G Sergio Rodriguez (6.2 ppg, 3.3 apg, 1.0 spg, 16.13 PER)
-G Tracy McGrady (8.1 ppg, 2.3 apg, .214 3P%, 16.95 PER)
-F Wilson Chandler (15.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 apg, 13.68 PER)
-F Danilo Gallinari (13.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 0.8 bpg, 14.88 PER)
-C David Lee (20.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 0.4 bpg, 22.43 PER)
Key Reserves: Chris Duhon, Al Harrington, Eddie House, Bill Walker, Toney Douglas, Jonathan Bender
Injuries: Eddy Curry (out), JR Giddens (out), Tracy McGrady (questionable), Jonathan Bender (questionable)
-G Mo Williams (16.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.2 spg, 15.88 PER)
-G Anthony Parker (7.3 ppg, 1.7 apg, .449 3P%, 9.69 PER)
-F LeBron James (30.0 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 8.5 apg, 31.94 PER)
-F Antawn Jamison (19.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 0.2 bpg, 17.16 PER)
-C Anderson Varejao (8.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 1.0 bpg, 15.27 PER)
Key Reserves: Delonte West, JJ Hickson, Jamario Moon, Jawad Williams, Leon Powe
Injuries: Shaquille O’Neal (out), Sebastian Telfair (out), LeBron James (probable)
Team Efficiency Stats
New York Knicks:
-Off (101.0 ppg, 40.7 rpg, .451 FG%, 21.5 apg, 14.2 TOpg, Eff-103.9, Rank-15)
-Def (104.2 ppg, 45.4 rpg, .477 FG%, Eff-107.4, Rank-25)
-Off (102.2 ppg, 42.1 rpg, .487 FG%, 21.9 apg, 14.3 TOpg, Eff-109.1, Rank-2)
-Def (95.3 ppg, 38.2 rpg, .439 FG%, Eff-101.4, Rank-7)
This is a pretty strange Cavs-Knicks matchup. Neither team is even remotely close to being the same team as the last 2 times they played. The Knicks completely overhauled their lineup once again at the trade deadline as they continued to try to get rid of any player who has any skill whatsoever, other than Danilo Gallinari, of course. Meanwhile, the Cavs are without both Shaq and Z and now have Antawn Jamison.
For the Cavaliers, I’m curious to see how this current roster changes things. Already the Cavaliers have worked their way up to 2nd in the NBA in Offensive Efficiency, and now that they are without Shaq and Z, they will feature lineups much smaller, but much more athletic. It will be fascinating to see if the Cavaliers try to push the tempo more than usual. After all, without the inside presence they’re used to, their defense has a real chance to continue to deteriorate and get worse. To counteract this, they need to make sure they continue to grow offensively.
The Knicks have had some success scoring against Cleveland in the past, and they still have some guys who can put some numbers. David Lee is solid, Gallinari is dangerous if he gets hot and you leave him open (and we all know how much the Cavaliers suddenly love leaving perimeter shooters wide open), and Al Harrington is still an offensive powerhouse.
Conversely, the Knicks play absolutely no defense whatsoever. So it’s possible we could see another 113-106 type of shootout thriller again in this game. Varejao has the quickness to defend Lee, but it will be interesting to see how Leon Powe matches up on him. Jamison should benefit from the fact that Gallinari prefers shooting from outside rather than working things inside, but that also means Jamison will be pulled away from him to help double Lee when needed. If nobody rotates onto Gallinari, he could have a lot of really good looks in this game, unless Mike Brown makes the adjustment to have the double come from somewhere else and allows Jamison to stick on Danilo on the perimeter.
Tracy McGrady is still trying to get into game shape and his knees are already giving him problems. He only played the first half of the Knicks last game, and we’ll see if he can go the distance in this game. At this point, I’m not really concerned about him taking over the game, and I think McGrady is a SG that Anthony Parker might actually be able to defend.
Offensively, the Cavaliers just need to limit their turnovers and not fall in love with their jumper too much. If you move the ball around a lot, particularly swing it from side to side, you will create some really easy looks inside. You can drive the ball off screens against the Knicks, and cutters will have some nice lanes for easy dunks. All of this is based on running set plays in the half court offense, of course. The Knicks do a good job in transition defense, actually, and sometimes the best play is to pull up and initiate your half court sets against them. As usual, though, movement both on and off the ball will be the key.
From The Outside Looking In
Birds Of A Feather
Next Game For The Cavaliers
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
7:30 PM EST
Cleveland Cavaliers at New Jersey Nets