Knicks Look To Win 2nd Straight, Facing Love And The Cavaliers: Preview

image from sbnation

The New York Knicks (2-7) will be taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers (3-5) at 7:30pm Eastern Time in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are listed as 2 point favorites after winning their 2nd game of the season, against a good Dallas Mavericks ball club on the road.

Starting Lineups- With 2 Attributes That Will Be Impactful Tonight (Strength, Weakness)

PositionNew York KnicksCleveland Cavaliers
PGFrank Ntilikina (generating turnovers/defense, scoring in the paint)Darius Garland (facilitating, turnovers/size)
SGRJ Barrett (driving, free throw shooting/perimeter defense)Collin Sexton (scoring/3 point shooting, size)
SFMarcus Morris Sr. (scoring, turnovers)Cedi Osman (3 point shooting/stealing, rebounding)
PFJulius Randle  (passing, defense/turnovers)Kevin Love (defensive rebounding/scoring on all 3 levels, turnovers)
CTaj Gibson (rebounding, shot blocking)Tristan Thompson  (interior defense/scoring, free throw shooting)

Matchup Of The Night

Julius Randle vs. Kevin Love

This is a matchup of each team’s highest paid player. Statistically this year, Julius Randle has been struggling, meanwhile Kevin Love is posting some of the best numbers of his 11 year career. Randle will have a really hard time scoring tonight going against the formidable big men of the Cavaliers. Kevin Love and interior shot blocker, Tristan Thompson will force the Knicks to score from the outside. The best thing Randle can do in this game for the Knicks is try and get these two fantastic big men into foul trouble along with passing to open shooters on the perimeter. Randle will be tested defensively having to cover Love who can score from all 3 levels (inside, mid-range, and from three). Randle sports a poor defensive rating of 108.9 and an equally bad offensive rating of 98.3. Love has mediocre numbers from a rating perspective with a defensive rating of 104.4 and an offensive rating of 102.8 (both being better than Randle’s). Opponents are only shooting 33.9% from three when Randle is covering them, but I would expect Love to utilize his shooting prowess and drill several three pointers in this game. Love is shooting 38.5% on catch and shoot 3 pointers so I would expect him to pick and pop along with spacing the floor, by standing in the corners on offense when he attempts his threes. Both players are not known for their shot blocking and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both attack each other in the paint, although Randle (shooting off the dribble 63.6% of the time) will likely do more driving to the basket than Love who will likely take Randle in the post (shooting 63.8% of the time without dribbling).

Julius Randle159.
Kevin Love18.514.


Knicks- Mitchell Robinson, Elfrid Payton, and Dennis Smith Jr.

Cavaliers- Dylan Windler

Key Statistics

  1. The Cavaliers only turn the ball over 14.1 times per game (5th in the NBA). The Knicks will have a hard time getting easy baskets in transition thanks to Cleveland’s ball security.
  2. The Cavaliers are shooting 77.8% from the foul line compared to the Knicks league worst 65.3%.
  3. Love takes 63.8% of his shots without dribbling. This means he will likely catch and shoot from the perimeter along with making quick moves in the post to do most of his scoring.
  4. Opposing teams are shooting 36.4% from 3 against the Knicks (22nd in the NBA), which shooters Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, and Jordan Clarkson will likely take advantage of.
  5. Cleveland is allowing teams to shoot 47.5% from the floor (26th in the NBA). The Knicks are shooting only 42.4% from the floor (29th in the NBA). The Cavaliers poor defense may help the Knicks shooting tremendously tonight.
  6. The Cavaliers two starting guards are Darius Garland (6-1, 192 lbs.) and Collin Sexton (6-1, 190 lbs.). The Knicks two starting guards are Frank Ntilikina (6-4, 200 lbs.) and RJ Barrett (6-6, 214 lbs.). This size advantage should help the Knicks drive to the basket on offense and stop the Cavaliers guards from scoring as long as Sexton isn’t left open from three where he is shooting 37.8% this season.
  7. RJ Barrett is shooting 45.8% from the line, but will need to stay aggressive and attack to basket against the smaller Cleveland guards.
  8. The Knicks are 3rd in the NBA in 2nd chance points per game (15.7), but are 4th in opposing 2nd chance points per game (10.8). Kevin Love is averaging 13.1 defensive rebounds per game, so it will be hard for the Knicks to get offensive rebounds while he is on the court. The Knicks will also have a hard time keeping Tristan Thompson off the offensive glass, as he’s averaging 5.1 offensive rebounds per game.

Keys To Winning

The Knicks will need to find ways to not let Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love dominant the paint on both sides of the court. Both of them are tremendous rebounders and scorers, often leaving a large imprint on the game. Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, and Bobby Portis will need to box out and crash the glass hard all night. Closing out on the Cavaliers three point shooters will also be a concern as they have multiple players that can get hot from downtown. On the offensive end, New York must hit the open shots they are given from the perimeter due to the Cavaliers strong interior defense. Ntilikina, Barrett, and Morris will have smaller players guarding them, but they will likely need to pull-up from mid-range to avoid Thompson who is averaging 1.6 blocks per game. If the Knicks can drive and get Love/Thompson into foul trouble, that would be a massive help for the Knicks on both ends of the floor. Barrett and Morris Sr. will need to do most of the scoring for the Knicks staring five in this game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s