The New York Knicks hit the road and head to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers. The Knicks are far below expectations this season. The Cavaliers are far above expectations. When two teams heading in opposite directions face-off, who is the right NBA pick?
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Monday, January 24, 2022 – 07:00 PM EST at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
New York Knicks
Every time the Knicks come close to becoming .500, they suffer another setback. This was the case once again after they dropped all three of their games in their most recent homestand this week. On Monday they looked listless against the Charlotte Hornets and fell 97-87. On Tuesday they fell short against the Timberwolves 112-110, but they at least showed fight in this game. Unfortunately, they blew a five-point lead with less than four minutes to go to once again come up on the short end. They then suffered another discouraging loss to the Pelicans 102– 91.
After an encouraging stretch, the Knicks once again fell back in the standings. Then the three losses dropped them into 11th place in the Eastern Conference. They would not even be in the play-in tournament if the season were to end today. This is quite disappointing to the fans after they had the fourth seed in the East last season.
The Knicks' offseason moves to improve their offense definitely detracted from their defense. Now they are average on both ends. They are no longer an elite defensive team that struggles to score. Of course, they've had their fair share of injuries, but who hasn't this season.
The Knicks are trying to improve and made what I consider to be a sharp trade for Cam Reddish from Atlanta. The Knicks gave up a first-round pick and Kevin Knox, who wasn't getting much playing time. Cam Reddish will be an excellent addition to this team as he is a very good defender, so Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau will give him playing time. Reddish is also an excellent offensive option. After playing on the Atlanta Hawks, Reddish was an afterthought in the offense. On this team that has problems scoring, Reddish will become a focal point of the offense. The Knicks hope Reddish plays tonight but he is still a game-time decision with an injured ankle. Kemba Walker and Nerlens Noel are also game-time decisions.
For the Knicks to get back to their winning ways of last season, they're going to have to return to the defensive intensity that defined their identity last year. They also had luck. Last season, the Knicks’ opponents had the lowest shooting percentage on wide-open 3s. There is an element of randomness to this, and it looks like the Knicks have regressed to the mean as far as their opponents shooting on undefended 3s. You can't control that, but you can control your ability to stay in front of your opponent and grab rebounds. The Knicks need to get back to these basics in order to return the excitement to New York that the fans possessed the previous season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are the turnaround of the season. The draft pick of Evan Mobley and the development of Darius Garland has turned them from a perennial lottery team to a team that could be hosting a first-round playoff series this season. The Cavaliers have overcome their fair share of injuries as well. First, they lost
Darius Garland leads the team with 20 points and 8 assists per game. One cannot watch the Cavaliers without noticing how quick and explosive Darius Garland is. When you combine it with their excellent ability in the frontcourt with Evan Mobley and Jared Allen, the Cavaliers are a well-balanced team. The Cavaliers are proof that if you draft well and develop your players correctly, you don't need to be in the lottery for too long.
This will be the second game of a
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Evan Mobley vs. Julius Randle
Evan Mobley has all the tools to trouble a guy like Julius Randle. He has size so Randle cannot get easy baskets against him in the post, but he also has quickness which will allow him to defend Randle on the perimeter. Still Randle is an experienced player who knows the ins and outs of how to score against even the best defenders. Mobley is still a rookie so it'll be interesting to see how he matches up against the Knicks All-Star. If Mobley is able to do a good job on Randle and severely limits the Knicks offense, they will have very little chance to win. If Randle is able to have a big night even against the stellar defense of Mobley, the Knicks could use this game as a stepping stone to get back on track for the season.
I can't trust the Knicks at this point in the season, especially against a team with a stronger defense. Defense is the Knicks calling card, and the Cavaliers excel at the
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