LAST TIME OUT
The Cleveland Cavaliers had a strong showing against one of the premier offensive threats in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers, on Saturday, forcing their All-Stars into becoming frustrated by the time crunch arrived. This helped Cleveland fight off LAC in the fourth quarter, leading to their second victory over a formidable West foe at home in the same week. The Cavs have proved that they can hold their own at home, and with the Knicks coming to town on Tuesday, this is another chance for the Cavaliers to prove that they’ve turned the corner.
THIS TIME UP
The Opponent: New York Knicks
Record: 5-14 (3-6 away)
Tipoff: Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. – Quicken Loans Arena
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio/NBA League Pass
Where you can listen: WTAM 1100
Previous Matchup: 101-91 Cavaliers loss at Quicken Loans Arena – April 12
Opponent’s Blog: Buckets Over Broadway
Knicks: PF Kenyon Martin (game-time decision, ankle), C Tyson Chandler (OUT, knee)
Will There Be A New Wing Rotation?
Very doubtful, but there should be. Shooting guard C.J. Miles and small forward Alonzo Gee played horrendous on the offensive side of the ball this past week, both shooting under 15 percent from the field. We know these guys haven’t been scorers this season (Miles has recently gone ice cold), but if Cleveland wants to jump on the hapless Knicks early on, they need to be aggressive on the offensive front. Dion Waiters, who had an applaudable performance last week is showing some real passion for wanting this team to improve, and inserting him back into the starting lineup may help Cleveland’s offensive problems. This team plays great defense at home, which is expected, but if they want to set the tone for their Florida road trip this weekend, breaking the 100-point barrier for the first time in 18 days will help. Plus, Kyrie Irving needs a viable wing threat on his side early on in the game so he isn’t taking the bulk of perimeter shots; not to mention that a lot of those shots are coming in low-percentage areas because the starting wings aren’t providing the needed spacing because of their lackluster shooting.
Take Advantage Of No Tyson Chandler
Especially on defense. With no real post threat to compare to the Thompson/Bynum/Varejao rotating frontcourt, and the overall success from that group as of late, New York will have a rough time preventing Thompson from possibly having another night like he did against Denver. Yes, I’m saying that a 20-20 performance for TT is very possible, but keep in mind that the Cavs and Knicks rank second to last and last respectively in points in the paint per game in the NBA this season. Over the last three games, however, Cleveland has been able to progressively improve in this area. New York, on the other hand, continues to be thrashed in the paint, only mustering 29.3 points in the aforementioned area over the same time span and rank second to last in rebounds per game on the season. Chandler will (hopefully for the Knicks) be back soon, and maybe New York will get back on track. But for now, the Wine & Gold need to take advantage of this opportunity presented to them on Tuesday. Even though I mentioned that the wing rotation needs to be altered, I don’t think any changes will be made in the starting lineup. That means Kyrie should be looking for Bynum early on in the contest to take the Knicks out of the game early.
The Fire In Kyrie’s Eyes
We saw it at times in the Clippers contest, and this was when matched up against Chris Paul. Yes, Kyrie can play up to the great point guards in the League, but can he bring this to the table every game? Irving will be going up against Raymond Felton, who shot 0 of 6 from the field Sunday afternoon and finished with zero points; much like Kyrie’s performance against the Hawks on Saturday. Irving has struggled with his shot in the first quarter of this season, as I outlined on Monday. With no player on the roster playing at an All-Star level, the Cavaliers desperately need their best player to come prepared every night. With the second quarter of the Cavaliers season beginning tonight at the Q, now is as good a time as ever to put the poor shooting percentages behind him.
The Cavs will come away with this one because the Knicks are that bad. Plus, we’re at the Q tonight. This team needs to learn how to play defense on the road, we know that, but the offense has just been dreadful overall. They’ve now scored in the 80s or below nine times this season. Without the energy of the home crowd behind them on the road, tonight is a good starting point against a dreadful team to enter triple digits and put on their first blowout victory of the season (Cleveland has averaged 4.9 points greater than their opponents in their seven victories this season).