While it may seem like just another normal NBA game on paper, this one is especially vital for both the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks as they find themselves in the midst of a seeding battle. The Cavs are currently within a game in seeds two through five, while the Knicks are battling to get out of the play-in tournament. Donovan Mitchell also makes his return from injury, bringing star power into the mix. Can his return spark a win for the Cavaliers on the road?
Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks Betting Odds
Oddsmakers think so as they opened the Cavaliers as a -3 favorite. Bettors are also slightly in agreement, backing the Cavs up to a -3.5 favorite as of writing. Not only do they get the return of their leading scorer, but their style of play also serves them well in this one. Especially on the defensive end, potentially negating the interior assault with their two bigs anchoring the paint while the Knicks still lack a consistent perimeter presence.
As for the total, oddsmakers believe points are expected to be scored at a moderate pace as they opened the number at 225. Bettors were quick to pounce on the under since the open, taking the total down to as low as 220.5. This instantly zaps all value from the number, making it an immediate pass for me. Should both units start out hot right away, a live under may be worth a look but this is a pass for now.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks Prediction
The Pick: Cleveland -3
While the Cavaliers offense has remained viable in Donovan Mitchell’s absence, his return will give Cleveland a much-needed consistent scoring boost and a strong reason why I am backing them at any number below -4. Their offensive identity shifted without him, relying on more facilitation in halfcourt sets and elite defensive play. This resulted in less possessions but helped maintain a quality scoring effort as a team overall.
With Mitchell back in the lineup, this allows the Cavs offense to go back to flowing through him as he commands defensive attention. Mitchell is an incredible two-way scorer, being able to get off his own shot as well as playmaking without the ball in his hands. This is exactly what the Cavs will need against the Knicks defense, a unit that ranks above average in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency.
Stretching out the Knicks defense will be especially vital as they boast an elite interior presence down low. Should Mitchell and Garland find success from deep early on, this pulls the Knicks away from the rim which gives Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen ample opportunities to generate scoring production down low.
- Over is 7-2 in the Cavaliers last nine games following an ATS win
- Over is 11-4-1 in the Cavs last 16 road games vs a team with a home losing record
- Knicks are 0-4 ATS in their last four games overall
Can the Cavs take advantage of the Knicks weak perimeter presence and limit their interior offense?
Knicks low post scoring vs Cavaliers interior defense
While the Cavs offense receives a much-needed scoring boost in this matchup with the return of Donovan Mitchell, it was their elite defensive play that has carried their success throughout the season. Especially in the interior, a key metric to their success in this one as the Knicks offense revolves around interior production.
The Knicks have been one of the worst perimeter shooting units in the league, an Achilles heel to their success. To combat against this, they have relied on interior production with Jalen Brunson drives and Julius Randle post play.
They will be hard pressed to find consistent success with this scheme as the Cavs boast a pair of bigs that are more than capable of anchoring the paint. Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen have led them to elite marks in defensive shooting production and are poised to shut down the Knicks in this matchup with their shot altering capabilities.
The scheme of this matchup heavily plays towards the Cavs favor, making them a play at any number less than -4.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
New York Knicks Starting Lineups
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: Donovan Mitchell (P)
New York Knicks Injuries: Immanuel Quickley (Q), Mitchell Robinson (O)