By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Tuesday, December 10th, 2013
New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Pre-Game News and Notes
The Knicks will look to bounce back after an embarrassing performance Sunday afternoon against the Boston Celtics tonight against the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have been playing much better basketball recently, winning three of their last four games against some talented teams in the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers. The Knicks will have to come out with a lot better effort and energy than they did Sunday if they are to knock off the Cavaliers tonight. Here are some things to keep an eye on in tonight’s game.
-Player News and Notes
The Knicks are getting closer and closer to having Tyson Chandler back on the court. Chandler participated in practice yesterday as he is beginning to get his conditioning back up. Kenyon Martin will be a game-time decision as his ankle injury kept him out of the lineup Sunday afternoon and he missed practice Monday. If he is able to suit up he is expected to slide right back into the starting lineup alongside Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani. The Cavaliers are expected to have their full arsenal of players at their disposal.
-Shumpert vs. Waiters
The incumbent Shumpert has been a cog in trade rumors all season as he is one of the only assets the Knicks have to dangle in trade talks. One person who he has been rumored to be on the move for is Cavaliers shooting guard Dion Waiters. The two should be matched up tonight plenty throughout the game and it will be a matchup worth keeping an eye on. Shumpert is the superior defensive player but Waiters is very talented offensively. Waiters is also capable of running the second team as the point guard so Shumpert and the Knicks will once again have their hands full at the guard position.
-Point Guard Struggles
Waiters is capable of running the second team offense but the big problem for the Knicks tonight will be rising talent Kyrie Irving. The struggles for the Knicks against opposing point guards has been the most consistent thing this season and it came to a head as Jordan Crawford torched them Sunday afternoon; keep in mind Crawford is only playing point guard because of Rajon Rondo’s injury so if he is capable of going off on the Knicks anyone capable of dribbling the ball up the court should succeed against the Knicks.
This season the Knicks are surrendering 25.5 points per game to opposing point guards. In all honesty that would be a victory if they are able to hold Irving to that amount as he averaged 31.3 points per game against the Knicks last season, including a career high 41 at Madison Square Garden on December 15, 2012. If the Knicks are able to slow Irving down at all it will be the key to them getting the victory.
-Who Controls the Middle?
If Kenyon Martin is unable to go the Knicks will not only have their hands full on the perimeter with Irvin and Waiters but in the interior as well. Andrew Bynum, Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson are as good a trio as any in the NBA and can cause the Knicks some problems; the problems will be exasperated if Martin is unable to go.
If Martin cannot play Metta World Peace is expected to get the start. World Peace is as tough as they come but there is only so much toughness makes up for in a lack of size. The Knicks will be scary small without Martin and unlike the Celtics the Cavaliers are not a team that will look to go small very often.
Bynum has started getting things turned around after a slow start in which he actually contemplated retirement; in his last four games Bynum is averaging 18 points and nine rebounds a game. Those would look like the baseline stats he will put up against the Knicks with the likes of Bargnani, Metta World Peace and Amar’e Stoudemire attempting to slow him down.
-Can Starters Get it Together?
The Knicks will need their starting unit to start producing like one if they are to have any success. The Knicks starters were outscored 89-29 Sunday afternoon; an unacceptable number of epic proportions. It has been tough for the Knicks to gain any continuity with the injuries they have faced but they need to come together as a unit and start playing some basketball. They looked outstanding, albeit against bad teams, in the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic. The ball movement and confidence they had in those games are something they need to constantly have during the season. There is no time to take games off as they did that for the first 16 games of the season.