Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and co. put together another masterful defensive performance on Sunday afternoon as the Knicks ramped up the pressure by taking a 3-1 series lead with a 102-93 victory in Game 4. NBA fans who yearn for the days of old have rejoiced while watching this series as we have witnessed another low scoring defensive affair. With their backs against the wall in a must win situation, my prediction is that the Cleveland Cavaliers pick up the scoring pace in an effort to keep their playoff hopes alive.
New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers Prediction
This is heavily predicated on the Cavs secondary players to find scoring success as the Knicks have mirrored their defensive game plan and made it their mission to get the ball out of their best players hands. Donovan Mitchell has been practically non-existent in the last few games, getting routinely doubled and forced to kick it out before being able to make the play himself. The same game plan the Cavs have thrown at the Knicks Jalen Brunson in an attempt to limit his slashing abilities.
Even though the Cavs have only eclipsed this team total over once this series, we should see a more spirited effort in a must win situation. Especially after dealing with the Knicks revamped pressure two games in a row, now getting an extra day of rest to retool their offense. Retooling their offense should be centered around how they will get Donovan Mitchell scoring opportunities, a game plan that may revolve around amping up the pace of play.
From a defensive perspective, it’s easy to throw doubles at the perimeter in a half court set as your players can reset towards the open man on the opposite side without fear of having to give up ground behind you. By picking up the pace of play, this sends the Knicks defense reeling back in position, forcing them to scramble and open up gaps in their coverage. That may mean they will need to stagger Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen’s minutes, creating space in the interior in transition.
New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers Betting Odds
In a do or die situation, oddsmakers have leaned towards the Cavs favor of extending the series by opening them as a -5.5 favorite in game 5. Bettors have yet to take a firm stand on either side of the number, keeping the spread the same as the open. The Cavs lack of adjustment has been their downfall, potentially drastically changing the flow of the series should they find success with a revamped offensive pace.
Speaking of offensive pace, oddsmakers believe we are in for another defensive slugfest as they opened the total at 205. Bettors are backing the idea of continued defensive success, taking the under down to as low as 202.5 in some shops as of writing. While I believe the Cavs are capable of ticking up their scoring pace, the question marks surrounding the Knicks ability to do the same gives me pause on putting a piece on the full game over.
- Knicks are 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings against each other
- Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings overall
Can Evan Mobley help take away defensive attention from Donovan Mitchell?
Darius Garland and Evan Mobley Vs. Knicks defense
With Mitchell getting tossed out the game plan with the Knicks forcing the ball out of his hands, this has increased the usage of Darius Garland who has been the leading recipient of leading the offense away from the pressure.
Evan Mobley has been practically non-existent as one of the Cavs go-to scoring options, failing to step up when the Cavs need his scoring presence as they have run more stagnant than ever with their lack of playmaking.
With the Knicks defense scrambling in transition, this allows Mobley to fill in the gaps by flashing to the charity stripe and potentially getting a quick isolation for a dribble drive. Should the Knicks cut off the middle then Mobley can hover around the opposite side block for a dump off.
Take the Cavs team total over as they look to get Mitchell back on track and keep their playoff hopes alive.
New York Knicks Starting Lineup
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineups
New York Knicks Injuries: Quentin Grimes (Q)
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: N/A