Dec 12 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao (17) takes a shot in the lane against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers Preview: Looking for Answers in the Big Apple

Dec 14, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives the lane against Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings (3) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The struggling Cleveland Cavaliers reached a new low last game when they committed 27 turnovers, shot only 39 percent from the field and had no response to the dynamic backcourt combination of Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. It was a performance that left Cavalier coach Byron Scott searching for answers.

 

So what’s next for the Cavaliers as they try to find these answers? How about a trip to New York to play the red-hot New York Knicks whom have the best record in the Eastern Conference (17-5) and have yet to lose at home.

 

This has been the Cavs luck all year.

 

Though, not all news is bad heading into this game. The Knicks will be without their star and MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony, who is nursing an ankle injury (the same injury that kept him out two games earlier in the season). Without Anthony there will be a huge drop off at power forward, as his replacement will be longtime journeyman Kurt Thomas.

 

Meanwhile the Cavs will be without top pick Dion Waiters again, who is cleared to play, yet will not play until he practices this Tuesday. Omri Casspi, who missed the game against the Bucks due to illness, is expected to suit up tonight.

 

Now let’s see how these two match up statistically:

 

Offense

New York Offense – 103.2 ppg (4th), 45.1 field goal percentage (10th), 1st in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio

Cleveland Offense – 93.7 ppg (25th), 41.0 field goal percentage (29th), 30th in NBA in assist-to-turnover ratio

Defense

New York Defense – 95.8 opponents ppg (10th), 45.3 opponent’s field goal percentage (22nd), 39.4 rebounds per game (28th)

Cleveland Defense – 99.6 opponents ppg (22nd), 47.2 opponent’s field goal percentage (30th), 42.7 rebounds per game (13nd)

As you can see the Knicks offense has been very efficient this year, while the Cavs are still at the bottom in may statistical categories on offense. On defense the Knicks and Cavs are a lot closer, with the Cavs holding a big edge in rebounding. Also when New York plays at home, they get better statistically. They average 106.6 points at the Garden, and give up only 93.

Match ups to watch

Kyrie vs JKidd – As you can see above the Knicks offense has been very potent and efficient thus far. A lot of this can be attributed to Jason Kidd who has a league best assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.71. It is a given that Kyrie will outscore Kidd, but he is going to have to play more efficient, and protect the ball as much as possible, or it will be a long day for the Wine and Gold.

Andy vs Tyson Chandler – Andy is a madman, who plays with the type of reckless abandonment that any coach salivates for. However, against true big men who are actually good (far and few between these days), Andy has struggled on occasion. Against the Lakers this past Tuesday, Dwight Howard out muscled and out rebounded Andy 20 to 9. Now granted Chandler is no Dwight Howard, but is still better than most Andy has faced.

Tristan vs The Veteran Committee – Tristan Thompson will be seeing a lot of time against Rasheed Wallace (38 years old) and Kurt Thomas (40 years old). He better out hustle, out rebound, and have more energy than the veteran committee, or he can expect a quick call to Mr. Samuels, and that infamous Coach Scott glare.

The Bottom Line – Vegas has the Cavaliers as 11-point underdogs even if Carmelo doesn’t play. That gives you an idea what they think of the Cavs chances. I on the other hand, think the Knicks are a little overrated. They rely heavily on Carmelo and tend to jack up a lot of threes when he is out. If those three balls aren’t falling, and the Cavs rebound like they should, this game will be closer then many people would expect.

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Tags: Anderson Varejao Cleveland Cavaliers Kyrie Irving Tristian Thompson

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