The Bobcats didn’t do any favors in New York’s quest for the eight-seed last night, beating the Trail Blazers by 30 points at home. It looks like Atlanta will be the team that the Knicks need to struggle down the stretch, and Atlanta tips off a tough road game in Toronto at 1:00 p.m. today. The Knicks need all the help they can get, but if they don’t take care of business against Cleveland, none of it matters.
Update: Hawks lose! Knicks are currently 2.5 games out!
This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season. After splitting the first two contests, the Knicks went schoolyard on the up-and-down (but mostly down) Cavs a couple of weeks ago, taking home the third win of the Knicks current eight-game streak.
They only won that game by 10 points, but New York was in control until an almost-collapse late in the fourth quarter. To make things easier, they should probably finish a little stronger tonight.
The Cavs have been wildly unpredictable this season. Their last 27 games have gone like this: six-game losing streak, six-game winning streak, three-game losing streak, two-game winning streak, four-game losing streak, two-game winning streak, four-game losing streak. You never know when Cleveland is going to turn it on, and the Knicks need to make sure that tonight’s game isn’t the start of another winning streak for the Cavs.
If New York can keep Cleveland’s backcourt under control, they shouldn’t have a problem outscoring them. The Cavs rank 23rd in the league with 97.1 points per game, but Kyrie Irving has a history of torching the Knicks, and most of the rest of the league for that matter. He already has two 30-point performances against New York this season, and since the ball is almost always in his hands when he’s on the floor, he’ll have the opportunity to do so again tonight. Irving’s backcourt-mate, Dion Waiters, has been playing with much more confidence since surviving the trade deadline, and is averaging 21.2 points per game over his last five contests. The duo has some star potential, but at this point of their careers, are rather inconsistent. Still, the Knicks need to respect their ability to get hot and take over games.
The way that New York has been playing lately, this shouldn’t be a matchup to worry about, but that’s exactly what worries me. The Knicks are rolling and things almost seem too good to be true. With a little bit of help, it’s possible that they wake up tomorrow just two games out of a playoff spot, but the team needs to continue taking things one day at a time. All the Knicks can do is worry about themselves, and if they continue their thorough and consistent play, there’s no reason to think that they won’t push their winning streak up to nine games. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. As always, TOK will have you covered.