After a narrow loss in game one, the Cavs went back to their roots and amped up their defensive intensity and cruised to victory in game two. They now come in as a +1.5 underdog on the road for game three in what will be a rowdy crowd in Madison Square Garden. Cedi Osman being listed as Questionable on the Cavs injury report brings up some question marks for their rotational bench minutes. Even potentially without him, my prediction stays the same as the Cavs should pull out the outright win. Currently the Cavs are +105 on the moneyline, per DraftKings sportsbook.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks Prediction
The Cavs defensive performance in game two can’t be overstated as they ran a brilliant scheme to rattle the Knicks. They consistently threw doubles at Jalen Brunson, forcing the ball out of his hands and daring someone else to beat them from over the top. With their elite interior defense in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, that forced the Knicks secondary scorers to either take a low quality mid-range jumper or attack the rim for a contested layup.
The plan was clearly effective as the Knicks were held to just 90 total points. We can expect more of the same from the Cavs in this contest as they learned their lesson from game one after Brunson went off for 27 points. While his assist numbers have dipped since the start of the playoffs, his slashing abilities breathes life into the offense as it puts pressure on the defense with his dual threat abilities.
Brunson has rounded out to be one of the more lethal slashing threats in the league, being able to both finish at the rim and stop and pop for an open look. When the defense has to clamp down on him, this opens up others for high quality looks. The Cavs can negate all of this by continuing to double team him, forcing the offense to flow through someone else who lacks Brunson’s playmaking abilities.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks Betting Odds
After a dominant performance in game two by the Cavs, oddsmakers have tempered their expectations of increasing their series lead by opening them as a +1 underdog in game three. Bettors are in agreement as well, taking the Knicks up to -1.5 as of writing. This comes as a bit of a surprise as the Cavs game two explosion came off the backs of their defensive play, bringing that same game plan into game three that gave the Knicks offense serious fits.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a sluggish pace as oddsmakers opened the total at 213.5. Bettors have been hammering the under as well, taking the number down to as low as 211.5 in some shops. The Knicks already play friendly towards the under with their offensive identity and lack of perimeter consistency, now needing a new game plan to counteract the Cavs reformed defense.
- Cavaliers are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings against each other
- Under is 4-1 in the last five meetings overall
Can the Cavs secondary scorers continue to thrive against the Knicks defense?
Darius Garland and Evan Mobley Vs. Knicks defense
Sort of like the Cavs defensive game plan revolving around getting the ball out of Brunson’s hands, the Knicks have been wise in targeting Donovan Mitchell. He was held to just 17 points in game two, well below his scoring average.
The issue for the Knicks defense is that the Cavs secondary scorers stepped up in a big way with Darius Garland catching fire with his newfound open looks and scoring 32 points on an 8/17 performance, according to ESPN.
Should the Knicks continue to double Mitchell and throw help side coverage on Garland, that opens the middle for Evan Mobley to do damage in as he has progressed as a reliable interior scorer. With crisp facilitation, the Cavs offense should not skip a beat after their game two performance.
Until someone else on the Knicks can step up as a consistent offensive force, I will back the Cavs on the moneyline as their defense should propel them to an outright victory.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
New York Knicks Starting Lineups
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: Cedi Osman (Q)
New York Knicks Injuries: N/A