Knicks vs. Cavaliers 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 1050 AM
New York: As the season winds down with 14 games left on the docket, the Knicks’ injuries are piling up during a heated playoff race. After last night’s loss in Atlanta, New York fell to 26-26 and its lead has dwindled to 1.5 games ahead of Milwaukee for the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jeremy Lin continues to be listed as day-to-day with a sore knee, Amar’e Stoudemire is out for 2-4 weeks due to a bulging disk in his back, and Carmelo Anthony is battling a sore groin. On the bright side, the Knicks are 8-2 under interim head coach Mike Woodson and a home contest against the Cavaliers is in the winnable category to get the squad back on track.
Cleveland: Despite a young and talented nucleus, the Cavaliers are dealing with growing pains at this point in the season. Cleveland has lost nine of its last 10 games, including a six-game losing streak heading into the matchup against the Knicks. At 17-32, the wine and gold might have a significant decision to make after 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick Kyrie Irving suffered a sprained right shoulder in the second quarter of last night’s game. His status is uncertain but the road team could opt to rest the future of the franchise with a shot at the postseason out of sight. The Cavaliers are also missing Anderson Varejao with a broken right wrist and Daniel Gibson, who is out for the season with a torn tendon in his left foot.
Last Time Out
New York: Despite trimming the Hawks lead to just two points late in the contest, Atlanta pulled away down the stretch and defeated the Knicks 100-90.
Cleveland: The Cavaliers allowed 71 points in the first half before falling to the Bucks 121-84 at home on Friday night.
The Numbers Game
For only the second time in the Woodson era (10 games) the Knicks allowed an opponent to reach the century mark on Friday in Atlanta.
Match-up to Watch
Carmelo Anthony vs. Antawn Jamison
Anthony showed true grit on Friday by attacking one of the best frontline defenders in the league, Josh Smith. For the second straight game, the Knicks All-Star made a living at the line by connecting on 13-of-14 attempts and finished with a game-high 36 points in 40 minutes. After an offensive slump by his standards, Anthony has seemed to regain his form. New York needs his activity and scoring prowess to find the win column on Saturday night. On the opposite side, Antawn Jamison will look to bounce back from a two-point effort against the Bucks. Jamison is a gifted scorer and averaging 17.9 points per game this season. Anthony and the Knicks frontline defenders must keep him in check, especially from the 3-point line, where Jamison can catch fire at any point during the contest. If Irving is unable to suit up tonight, Jamison will become the top scoring option for the visiting Cavaliers.
What to Look For
The main concern for the Knicks is the focus on their production from the bench. New York relies heavily on “Mobb Deep” to quickly shift the momentum behind JR Smith and Steve Novak. The crew has changed over the past couple of games as Iman Shumpert and Baron Davis jumped into the starting lineup to counter the loss of Stoudemire and Lin. Smith and Novak only combined for eight points in the game last night in Atlanta. In order to snatch a win at MSG tonight, New York will search for offense from other contributors as it can’t expect Anthony and Shumpert to score over 61 of the team’s 90 total points.