CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (16-29)
at NEW YORK KNICKS (18-27)
Tip-off: Thursday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: New York -6, Total: 196
The Knicks look to win their fourth straight game Thursday when they host a Cavaliers team that has lost two in a row.
New York has cranked up the offense with 116.3 PPG on 52% FG (48% threes) during its three-game win streak (SU and ATS), but those wins have come versus the Bobcats, Lakers and Celtics who are a combined 51-90 SU (.362) this season. Cleveland, on the other hand, has really struggled to score recently, failing to reach 100 points in any of its five-game homestand where it averaged a paltry 91.2 PPG on 40% FG (32% threes). The Cavs now get back on the road where they are a miserable 5-17 SU (7-15 ATS) and allowing 104.4 PPG on 47.6% FG to host teams. Although the Knicks have won three straight at home, they are still a horrible 10-15 SU (8-17 ATS) at Madison Square Garden. These teams are meeting for the second time this season, with Cleveland outshooting New York 57% FG to 46% FG in a 109-94 rout on Dec. 10. But before that setback, the Knicks had won six of the previous eight games SU (5-3 ATS), including all four at home (3-1 ATS) by an average of 12.5 PPG. Although New York is just 7-15 ATS (32%) when the total is between 190 and 199.5 points this season, the club is 26-6 ATS (81%) after scoring 105+ points in three straight games since 1996. Both teams have key injuries, as C Anderson Varejao (knee) is questionable for Cleveland, while SG Iman Shumpert (shoulder) is questionable for New York.
Can the Knicks keep rolling with another sizable victory at home? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. StatFox Dave has an excellent 61% ATS (26-17) Best Bets record since Dec. 1 and is 54% ATS (36-31) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Zach has a strong 56% ATS mark (23-18-1) on Best Bets since Dec. 1 and is currently 52% ATS (34-32-1) on Best Bets for the season. StatFox Scott is 53% ATS (17-15) in Best Bets since Dec. 16.
The Cavaliers have been subpar on both ends of the court this season, netting just 96.1 PPG (23rd in NBA) with a mere 19.8 APG (28th in league), while allowing 101.3 PPG (16th in NBA). Since acquiring SF Luol Deng (18.0 PPG, 6.1 RPG), the team is just 4-6, with the last four of those defeats coming at home. Deng has struggled to find his groove offensively for the Cavaliers, averaging just 11.0 PPG (33% FG, 0-for-7 threes) and 5.5 RPG over the past four contests. But a meeting with New York should boost his offensive numbers considering Deng dropped 25.0 PPG (52% FG) with 7.8 RPG in four meetings last season. He will, however, need to be ready to defend as he will be matched up with a red-hot Carmelo Anthony. PG Kyrie Irving (21.5 PPG, 6.2 APG) is averaging 21.9 PPG and 6.9 APG over the past seven contests and he will should continue to pour in points on Thursday with a very favorable matchup against the Knicks who really struggle against opposing point guards. Irving tallied 37 points (61% FG), 11 assists and just one turnover in last month's meeting with New York and averaged 31.3 PPG (49% FG) in last season's series. This game is also another opportunity for SG Dion Waiters (14.3 PPG, 38% threes) to get back on track. Waiters had 21 points (9-of-13) in the loss to the Pelicans Tuesday, but in the four previous games, he averaged a paltry 8.2 PPG on 33% FG. One thing that should have the Cavaliers excited was the play of PF Anthony Bennett (2.8 PPG, 2.4 RPG) against the Pelicans. Bennett has failed to live up to his expectations as a No. 1 overall pick, but he had a career-high 15 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes of action in that game.
The Knicks offense is finally getting on track, but they have scored only 96.6 PPG this season (22nd in NBA) with 20.4 APG (21st in league). Defense has not been a problem though, as New York allows only 99.1 PPG (10th in NBA). The Knicks have strung together a three-game winning streak thanks mostly to SF Carmelo Anthony (27.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG), who has scored an impressive 40.3 PPG on 56% FG and 48% threes during this win surge. He was also sizzling in the trip to Cleveland last month with 29 points on 12-of-19 FG (3-of-4 threes) with eight rebounds, upping his career numbers to 21.5 PPG (46% FG) and 5.7 RPG in 24 meetings with the Cavs. Also playing well for New York during the win streak is rookie SG Tim Hardaway Jr. (8.6 PPG, 41% threes). In the three straight victories, Hardaway is averaging 14.7 PPG on 53% FG (8-of-15 threes). PG Raymond Felton (10.8 PPG, 5.6 APG) must be ready to play on Thursday as he will be going up against Kyrie Irving. Felton has played some decent offensive basketball during the win streak with 11.7 PPG (60% FG) and 6.0 APG, but his defense has been suspect, and he has done a lousy job of containing Irving since the young star entered the league. C Tyson Chandler (8.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.4 BPG) is finally starting to look healthy for the Knicks, averaging 12.5 PPG (59% FG) and 13.5 RPG over the past two contests. His defense will be very important as the Cavaliers will attack the rim frequently against a shaky New York defense. SG J.R. Smith (12.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG) has scored at least 14 points in six straight games, averaging 16.7 PPG with 49% threes during this hot streak.