Cleveland Cavaliers vs New York Knicks: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/9/18

The Cavs face a must-win situation against the Knicks to keep any hopes of snatching the No. 3 seed away from the Sixers alive.

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After an incredible against the Washington Wizards, the Cleveland Cavaliers (49-31) nearly pulled off another unbelievable comeback against the Philadelphia 76ers. However, they fell just short of digging themselves out of another massive hole as they fell, 132-130, which snapped their five-game losing streak. LeBron James had another spell-binding game with 44 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists as he led the Cavs back from a 23-point halftime deficit to keep it close in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Jeff Green also starred with a season-high 33 points.

The Cavs now head to New York to face the Knicks (28-52), who went back to losing ways with a 115-102 defeat to the Milwaukee Bucks. The slumping Knicks have now dropped five of their last six games. Veteran Jarrett Jack led the way with 18 points and seven assists off the bench in just his second game back from a long layoff. Meanwhile, Kyle O’Quinn added 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Three keys to the game

LeBron James – There are just no words to James’ greatness. He almost singlehandedly brought the Cavs back from two improbable situations in back-to-back games and has been sensational for over two months straight. A trip to Madison Square Garden is always a special occasion, so look for him to put on another show.

Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return – The Knicks were without THJ in their defeat to the Bucks due to an ankle sprain. That was a blow to the already offensively challenged Knicks. It remains to be seen whether Hardaway can make it back in time to face the Cavs. But if he returns, his offense will be a much-needed boost, especially since he’s averaged 31 points in his two games against the Cavs this season.

Trey Burke bounce-back – Burke, who has been brilliant for the last couple of weeks, had a rare off night against the Bucks as he finished with just eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. That will not be good enough to beat an in-form Cavs team. The Knicks will need the Burke who’s been dropping 18 points and six assists if they stand any chance of out-dueling the Cavs.

Matchup to watch

LeBron James vs Michael Beasley – James can and will bring it in MSG, but Michael Beasley can go off for a big game. The 29-year-old shook off some rust against the Bucks after a two-game spell on the sidelines and will do his best to keep up with the King.

Cavs projected starting lineup

PG – Jordan Clarkson | SG – Rodney Hood | SF – Cedi Osman | PF – LeBron James | C – Kevin Love

Knicks projected starting lineup

PG – Trey Burke | SG – Frank Ntilikina| SF – Courtney Lee | PF – Michael Beasley | C – Kyle O’Quinn

Fantasy tip

James has been a walking triple-double for the better part of two months and could have another field day against the Knicks. But aside from him, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which other Cav can be counted on fantasy-wise. Kevin Love hasn’t exactly been at his best since returning from a concussion. Jeff Green will be an intriguing pick seeing as he’s scored 54 points on an incredible 18-of-22 from the field, although it should be noted that his consistency is not his strong suit.

As for the Knicks, Kyle O’Quinn has been tearing it up since taking over at center for Enes Kanter. He’s averaging an impressive 14 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks in his last three games and could do similar damage against a relatively small Cavs team.

Betting tip

There shouldn’t be much doubt about this game. The Knicks are clearly not good and the Cavs are eager to bounce back from a disappointing loss against the Sixers. LeBron James brings it against just about every team he faces these days, but he should add a bit extra for the Madison Square Garden crowd. Take the Cavs to win and cover on the road.

Prediction

James has another stellar performance to lead the Cavs to a 118-104 win over the Knicks.

TV info

This game will be broadcast on NBA TV, as well as MSG and Fox Sports Ohio. Tip-off is at 7:30 pm Eastern. 

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