There Will Be No Love On The Court Tonight: Knicks vs. Cavaliers Preview

image via Mary Altaffer and Cleveland 19

The New York Knicks (3-10) will be facing the Cleveland Cavaliers (4-8) at 7:00pm Eastern Time at home in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are listed as 5 point favorites in this game after a brutal 1 point loss to the Hornets, Saturday night. Cleveland will be without their top player, Kevin Love. The Knicks lost to the Cavaliers earlier in the season, 108-87.

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

PositionNew York KnicksCleveland Cavaliers
PGFrank Ntilikina (generating turnovers, scoring)Darius Garland (facilitating, shooting)
SGRJ Barrett (driving, perimeter defense) Collin Sexton (scoring, size)
SFMarcus Morris Sr. (3 point shooting, turnovers)Kevin Porter Jr. (athleticism, shooting)
PFJulius Randle (interior scoring, turnovers)Cedi Osman (3 point shooting, rebounding)
CTaj Gibson (efficient scoring, fouling)Tristan Thompson (interior defense, free throw shooting)

Matchup Of The Night

Frank Ntilikina vs. Darius Garland

Frank led the Knicks in touches last game with over 80. He plays an intricate role in this offense, even though he only averages 5.2 points and 3.1 assists per game. He will set up the Knicks offense and look to generate steals on the turnover prone, Cleveland guards. Frank averages 1.6 steals per game and owns a defensive rating of 105.5. Darius Garland averages 2.3 turnovers per game. Garland is also shooting a terrible 33.1% from the floor and 28% from downtown. Garland is quick and shifty, often dishing assists after drawing help-defenders. He is averaging 3.4 assists per game and it will behoove the Knicks to sag off him, daring him to shoot, and not let him get into the paint. Both of these point guards have had offensive woes and can really help their teams’ struggling offenses (reference statistic 4 below) if they contribute more tonight.


Knicks- Elfrid Payton and Reggie Bullock

Cavaliers- Kevin Love, Larry Nance Jr., and John Henson

Key Statistics

  1. Per 100 possessions when Kevin Love is off the floor this season: 
    1. The Cavaliers only make 8.5 three-pointers, least made with any player off the floor.
    2. The Cavaliers make 20 free throws, 2nd most with any player off the floor.
    3. Cleveland makes 17.2 assists, 2nd least with any player off the floor.
    4. Cleveland makes 12.3 turnovers, the least made with any player off the floor.
    5. The Cavaliers block 4.1 shots, the 2nd most with any player off the floor.
  2. When Kevin Love is on the court, the Cavaliers defensive rating is 103.2. When he’s off the court, it falls to 108.
  3. When the Cavaliers win, they average 30 free throw attempts per game, 10 more than they do when they lose.
  4. The Cavaliers are 27th in the NBA in points per game (104.4). The Knicks are last (100.2).
  5. Cleveland is 25th in the NBA in three-pointers made per game (9.8).
  6. Cleveland is 29th in the NBA in assists per game (19.7). The Knicks are 27th (20.4).
  7. The Cavaliers are 29th in the NBA in blocked shots per game (3.7).
  8. Cleveland is 29th in the NBA in blocked shots attempted per game (7.2).
  9. The Knicks are 27th in the NBA committing 23.9 fouls per game. The Cavaliers are first, only committing 18.1 fouls per game.
  10. When Ante Zizic is on the floor, the Cavaliers have a defensive rating of 133.3, the worst rating when any player is on the floor.

Keys To Winning

When Kevin Love isn’t on the floor, the Cavaliers attack the basket more, turn the ball over less, pass the ball less, and block more shots. The Knicks on defense should look to shoot the ball from the perimeter when Thompson is in the game, unless they’re getting him into foul trouble. Then when Thompson comes out, the Knicks should drive the ball against the Cavaliers poor defending, backup center, Ante Zizic. New York will need to cover the rim on defense and pay most of their attention on the perimeter to Collin Sexton, who scored 31 points, draining 5 threes, in their last matchup against each other. Also, the Knicks must not foul and turn the ball over, like they did in their previous game against Cleveland. The Cavaliers made 28 free throws in that game and forced the Knicks to make 21 turnovers.

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