By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Cavaliers | Quicken Loans Arena
When: Monday | 7:00 PM
Where to Watch: MSG Networks
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York: The Knicks came out strong behind another stellar shooting performance from Carmelo Anthony, but were unable to sustain the effort against the defending champs throughout the second half. They managed only 34 points after halftime as a result of turnovers and poor shot selection down the stretch...They had won three straight entering Sunday, and will look to get back to their winning ways as they head to Cleveland.
Cleveland: Despite having some promising young talent, including three top-5 picks from the last two drafts, the Cavs are still in the early stages of a rebuilding project they embarked on after LeBron James' departure. All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is the centerpiece, and Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters have shown signs that they can be solid contributors on a good team. But, with a 20-39 record, they are not there yet. They rank 28th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and are playing without Anderson Varejao for the rest of the season after he suffered a knee injury that required surgery...Irving is listed as questionable for tonight's game.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks led by as many as 16, but the Heat came back to win, 99-93, at the Garden on Sunday.
Cleveland: Playing host to the Clippers on Friday night without Kyrie Irving, the Cavs were never really in it and lost, 105-98.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony has tied Kevin Durant for the NBA scoring lead at 28.6 points per game.
Matchup to Watch
James White/Jason Kidd/J.R. Smith vs. Dion Waiters
Since the Knicks' shooting guard spot has been in flux of late and Waiters has both started and come off the bench for the Cavs this season, let's go with a combo matchup here. Waiters is a classic 6th man type and is second on his team in scoring, at just under 15 points per game. As a rookie, his efficiency is still not where it needs to be (41% from the field, 32% from 3), but he can fill it up if he gets hot. With Irving possibly out tonight, White or Kidd or whoever else draws the assignment will have to keep and eye on him wherever he is on the court. On offense, the Knicks trio of 2s should present Waiters with a challenging variety of threats on which the Knicks can capitalize if they are patient.
What to Look For
We will be looking for a bounceback from the Knicks, coming off of a disappointing second half against the Heat. The offense was humming, led by Anthony, before uncharacterstic turnovers and questionable shot selection doomed a possible fourth straight win -- and a third in three games against the Heat. Against Cleveland, the Knicks have every opportunity to recapture success on offense -- with or without Irving on the floor. If they can move the ball, they should find quality looks. The cavs rank 24th in rebounds per game, so if the Knicks can limit the opponent's possessions like they usually do by protecting the ball, they should be in good shape.