Preview

The Champion Cavs Return To MSG

Can the Knicks take down LeBron and the Cavaliers? Probably not!

Photo: Jim McIsaac

Tonight, the New York Knickerbockers are taking on the Cleveland Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. Both Eastern Conference “super teams” found January to be a rather unpleasant month. LeBron had his first month where his team lost more games than they won since 2006, and the Knicks ushering in the new year with only six wins was torturous to watch. However, both teams are looking to move on as both are coming off of wins against non-seeded teams. The Knicks barely pulled theirs off, but a win is a win.

Here’s a look into tonight’s game:

LeBron James is a triple-double threat every night, and the Knicks haven’t had a ‘Bron Stopper since Alexey Shved. Since Shved isn’t walking through those doors and Lance Thomas is still fighting an injury things could get pretty ugly if LeBron is going at Carmelo Anthony all night. ‘Melo may have to shoulder more of the scoring load than usual if the questionable Derrick Rose isn’t available to play.

via The Knicks Wall/SoundCloud

A classic ‘Melo vs. LeBron super team match up is always enjoyable if the game is respectable, but last time the Knicks played the Cavaliers, the blowout was so laughable that James took to playing with a water bottle on the bench. Hopefully, Carmelo’s supporting cast can step up and take advantage of a vulnerable Cavs team.

It is becoming increasingly more likely that Brandon Jennings will start as point guard. His defense has been subpar, yet marginally better than his injured predecessor Rose. Nevertheless, it would probably be in the best interest of the team if Lee guarded Cavalier’s guard Kryie Irving instead of Jennings. Then again, maybe it’s not. The Cavaliers haven’t quite found their rhythm with their sharpshooting guards, but with the Knicks abysmal perimeter defense this may just be the spark they need. Although defensive sets have been better in recent play, but it will take more than basic effort to stop a Cavalier’s fast break and passes from the post to the three point line.

Photo: via Knicks.com

Kristaps Porzingis was introduced to the grinder during the Knicks last contest against Cleveland. He was obviously lost on defense and Kevin Love took full advantage. He had an offensive rating of 81, uncharacteristically low, and a defensive rating of 136 (via BBall_Ref). The numbers alone show how bad of a game he had on both ends. It was an ugly low point for the rising star, but growing pains are necessary. If the Knicks want any chance of a close game Porzingis must play smarter than he did in their last game against the Cavs.

The bigs, namely Kyle O’Quinn and Willy Hernangómez, will have to overcome Love and Tristan Thompson’s aggressive rebounding. The Knicks rank second (tied with Chicago) this season in rebounds as a team, so, hope is alive that Thompson, a prolific offensive rebounder, won’t get his way on misses (per NBA.com/Stats). Since head coach Hornacek has made it clear that he is in favor of Hernangómez coming off of the bench and starting a 72-million dollar liability, it’s up to the big men to take advantage of the Cavalier’s bench. Willy has averaged a double-double in that last two games. If he can keep up this streak of dominance in the paint it could go a long way into his future as a Knick.

In a recent interview James said that he just wants the best for ‘Melo. Let’s hope that means a less embarrassing loss this time around.

Ty Jordan, site writer

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