Knicks @ Cavaliers 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
Knicks Shootaround News
Amar’e Stoudemire will return tonight for the matchup against the Cavaliers after missing the last 13 games with a bulging disk in his back. As Stoudemire jumps back into the starting lineup, interim head coach will move Carmelo Anthony back to his natural small forward position, shift Iman Shumpert to the shooting guard spot, and Landry Fields will now come off the bench.
New York: The Knicks took care of business against the Celtics and Nets to snag the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference standings. On Thursday night, the Bucks suffered a road loss in Indiana, which secured a postseason appearance for New York as it holds a 33-29 overall record. After clinching a playoff berth, the Knicks still have work to do with a chance to move up in the standings and avoid Chicago or Miami in the first round. New York will face Cleveland on Friday, travel to Atlanta for a Sunday matchup, return to MSG for a game against the Clippers, and finish the season in Charlotte next Thursday night. Amar’e Stoudemire could return to the lineup on Thursday as he continues to recover from a bulging disk in his back. Baron Davis is expected to start following a stomach illness that kept him out of the contest in New Jersey.
Cleveland: With the 2011-12 season winding down, the Cavaliers are looking towards next year and despite a 20-41 overall record, there should be some excitement for the future. The 2011 No. 1 overall pick, Kyrie Irving will collect the Rookie of the Year award and Cleveland will snag another lottery pick in what expects to be a loaded 2012 NBA Draft. Irving missed the previous nine games with a sprained shoulder before returning to the lineup on Wednesday night in a loss to the 76ers. Anderson Varejao suffered a broken right wrist on February 10 and he is most likely out for the season along with shooting guard Daniel Gibson. The Cavaliers will struggle to snap their current losing skid as they face New York, San Antonio, Memphis, Washington, and Chicago to conclude the season.
Last Time Out
New York: The Knicks dominated New Jersey in the first half and cruised to a 104-95 on Wednesday night in their last game at the Prudential Center with the Nets moving to Brooklyn.
Cleveland: The Cavaliers were thoroughly outplayed in a 103-87 defeat on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Numbers Game
Carmelo Anthony is red-hot in April and registered his third consecutive game with 30 or more points on Wednesday. He also sunk a season-high five 3-pointers in the win.
Match-up to Watch
Kryie Irving vs. Knicks Backcourt
Irving is deceptively quick off the dribble and he also possesses a nice perimeter jumper. Averaging 18.6 points and 5.6 assists per game, the rookie is the top offensive option for the Cavaliers. On the opposite side, Davis, Bibby, and most likely Shumpert will see some time on the 20-year old. Shumpert’s size and strength could really frustrate Irving as Davis is recovering from the stomach illness that kept him out of Wednesday’s game in New Jersey. Bibby had a solid performance against the Nets but he does not have the lateral quickness at this point in his career to keep up with the former Duke standout.
What to Look For
The Knicks must exude the same mindset and execution level from Wednesday night. Cleveland is out of the playoff race but New York needs to maintain momentum heading into the second season. From an offensive standpoint, the Knicks should find the same type of opportunities from the perimeter as seen in the victory over the Nets, considering the Cavaliers allow 100 points per game. Behind Anthony’s firepower and the contributions from J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, New York will look to establish an early lead and silence the home crowd as the Cavaliers are only 10-21 on their floor.