By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Cavaliers | Madison Square Garden
When: Sunday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (29-40): The Knicks survived a scare on Friday night in Philadelphia, as they took a 17-point lead with five minutes to go, only to have the Sixers cut it to two with seconds to play. Coach Mike Woodson reinserted his starters to seal the victory, New York's eighth straight. The Knicks picked up a game on Atlanta in the standings and now trail the Hawks by three (four in the loss column) with 13 to play. Amar'e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony combined for 60 points and 28 rebounds in the win.
Cleveland (26-44): The Cavs were neck-and-neck with the Knicks when the two teams met a couple weeks ago but have gone in a different direction since that loss. They enter tonight with a four-game losing streak thanks to a brutal stretch in which they've faced the Heat, Clippers, Thunder and Rockets. It will be tough for Cleveland -- ranked 19th on defense and 24th on offense -- to salvage this season, especially with an injury list that now includes All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving (out two weeks with a strained biceps).
The Numbers Game
The Knicks had 29 assists as a team on Friday night in Philadelphia.
Matchup to Watch
Amar'e Stoudemire vs. Tristan Thompson
The Knicks have won seven of eight games since Stoudemire stepped into the starting lineup for good. He's solidifed the front line, teaming with Chandler to give New York an identity that has them clicking on both ends of the floor. He's averaging 18.5 points and 6.6 assists per game during this span while shooting just under 60 percent from the floor. Thompson, the converted right-handed shooter this past offseason, is proving to be a solid starter, averaging 13 points and 10 boards per game.
What to Look For
The Knicks finally were finally rewarded for their efforts, picking up some ground in the standings after Friday's win. With a five-game west coast road trip looming, they know tonight's game is crucial if they're going to continue to put pressure on Atlanta and Charlotte for a playoff spot. The Cavs played Houston last night in a high-scoring affair, so that could affect their energy in this one. They are already shorthanded with Irving, Luol Deng (missed last night's game with a sprained ankle) and Anthony Bennett (strained knee) on the bench.