Next up, the Cleveland Cavaliers will face the New York Knicks. Cleveland has been defeated in their last two contests at home versus the OKC Thunder and Indiana Pacers.
The Cavaliers could not close things out against Oklahoma City on Friday, as the Thunder made a late flurry of three-point shots to escape in that one. In the Indy game, Cleveland started out well but the Pacers were simply too much for a short-handed Cavaliers squad down Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell and still Jarrett Allen.
On Tuesday, the Wine and Gold will look to get back on track when the play host to the Knicks. As Cavs fans know all too well, New York dispatched Cleveland in their first-round series in last season’s playoffs in only five games.
For the Wine and Gold, snagging a W on Tuesday on Halloween night would be a nice bit of momentum for a squad trying to get off the schneid. The injury outlook for the Cavaliers will definitely factor into their chances, though.
Cavaliers: Darius Garland (out, hamstring); Jarrett Allen (out, ankle); Ty Jerome (out, ankle); Ricky Rubio (out, personal); Donovan Mitchell (questionable, hamstring).
As a nationally-televised Halloween game, this Cavaliers-Knicks contest at 7:30 ET will be on TNT. For those in-market, MSG and MSG+ will have it. NBA subscriptions and Max will have it as streaming options as well.
Many had to be looking forward to this matchup a bit before the start of the regular season, and back near the NBA schedule release. Of course, the Knicks had their way in last year’s playoff series against the Cavs, which they won in five games behind tough defense, offensive rebounding, hustle plays, and big shots when they needed them.
The Cavaliers have the makings of a squad that should fare better against clubs like the Knicks this season with shooting improvements over the offseason, and some better depth. But, in this Halloween matchup, and potentially in Wednesday’s game in New York, the Cavs could simply be up against it rotation and lineup-wise.
Of course, Cleveland being without Garland and Allen again doesn’t help.
With this next time being against Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, Quentin Grimes and company, that’s going to put more pressure on the likes of Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert. And with what the Knicks did in last postseason, this could be an instance where the Cavaliers have a really difficult task trying to clean the glass.
Allen had his issues doing that in that playoff series versus the Knicks, but normally, he’s still really good there, and Cleveland not having him as an interior defender here is something that could lead to confusion at times with New York’s drivers. Cleveland may want to utilize Tristan Thompson some in this contest for a physical element, and for team defense/his screening.
Now, offensively, if Mobley is steadily involved, and the Cavs can get contributions from players like Dean Wade, whether or not he has a spot start, and Georges Niang, that could give Cleveland a spark.
But, realistically, even if Donovan Mitchell is a go here, the Cavs might not have quite enough to avenge what played out in the past playoffs against the Knicks just yet in this Halloween game. When they get healthier again, Cleveland should find themselves getting going; there have still been a number of bright spots thus far for the Cavaliers.
Prediction: Knicks 108, Cavs 102
The Cavs will play the second of their back-to-back miniseries with the Knicks on Wednesday night in Manhattan.
From there, the Wine and Gold will face the Pacers in their first game of the NBA In-Season Tournament in the opening of group play before playing host to the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.