Coming off Thursday nights victor over Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers, the Knicks come into tonight’s game without the services of Carmelo Anthony. Cleveland is not a very good team, entering tonight with a 5-18 record. New York ranks 2nd and 15th in the league in offensive and defensive efficiency. Cleveland ranks 28th and 27th respectively. The Knicks rank 27th in the league in pace, while Cleveland plays at the 10th fastest pace. Even without the services of Anthony, this is a game the Knicks should win.
Here is what to watch for:
- The Knicks must keep Anderson Varejao off the boards tonight. Varejao has had a monster season and he ranks second in the league in rebound percentage at 23.9%. In Cleveland’s last name, Varejao grabbed 18 rebounds. 19 of his 23 games played have resulted in double digit performances. Contrary to Charles Barkley’s belief, the Knicks aren’t a bad rebounding team. They rank 9th in the league in defensive rebound rate. With Anthony out, the Knicks will likely play big for most of the game. Obviously you’ll see Chandler, but expect to see a lot of Sheed and a lot of Kurt Thomas. Having bigger lineups should help the Knicks need Varejao in check.
- Don’t let this be a trap game. With Jeremy Lin, the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls coming into Madison Square Garden next week, the Knicks could very well be looking past this game against the lowly Cavs. While Cleveland is not very good, they do have guys who can kill you. Kyrie Irving is arguably the second or third best point guard in basketball and I’ve already spoken about Varejao. CJ Miles has averaged 20 points per game in his past five, including a pair of 28 point outbursts against Indiana and Los Angeles. Given how the season has gone, I don’t expect the Knicks to blow this game. Mike Woodson really has the team zoned in and if you look at their schedule, they’ve taken care of bad teams. Unlike last season, when they went 8-15 through their easiest stretch of the season, the Knicks have beaten up on bad teams.
- Raymond Felton needs to start being more efficient. While he still is great at not turning the ball over and he has been doing good things dishing the ball, his shooting has really fallen off lately. In the month of December, Felton has shot just 37% on 20 shots a game. Due to his string of high shooting, low efficiency games, Felton now has more shot attempts (352) than points scored (350) on the season. Without Anthony, the Knicks need Felton to have an efficient shooting game tonight.
- BREAKING NEWS VIA BOTP:
I’m predicting 25 points from Copeland tonight. This should be fun. Cya everyone!