After last night’s win, fans will likely find it easy to pick the Knicks over the Cleveland Cavaliers in tonight’s matchup. The Knicks do have a better lineup right now, are way more healthy, and are coming off a pretty one-sided victory against the Cavaliers. I mean, shoot, the players and fans must’ve slept well and woken up confident knowing that the team would be coming back home and playing a hobbled team that they just beat rather-handedly.
But those are all telltale signs of a trap game and the Knicks and their fans have to avoid underestimating the Cavaliers for several reasons.
First of all, in the NBA, every game can be difficult due to the sheer concentration of talent in the league, which is why we hear so often that any team can be beaten on any given night by anyone. And if that is the case for one game, you can see why beating the same team on back-to-back nights can be so difficult. This is likely why we see so many of these home-and-home two-game sets result in a 1-1 split.
Secondly, this team just is not good enough right now to play around with its food. We’re just four games into the season, but the two wins have come against non-elite teams, and their losses have been pretty sloppy and ugly.
Thirdly, sitting at just 2-2, the Knicks must step on the gas pedal and have a killer instinct when playing against another Eastern conference team that will likely be in the playoff hunt with them down the stretch (Ed: this is the second of three regular-season games between NYK and CLE—if the Knicks win tonight they would clinch the head-to-head advantage over the Cavs for the postseason).
Considering the difficult schedule the Knicks have in November, they would be wise to take this game very seriously and try to string together some wins moving forward regardless of who the opponents are missing.
New York Knicks:
G - Jalen Brunson
G - Quentin Grimes
F - RJ Barrett
F - Julius Randle
C - Mitchell Robinson
G - Donovan Mitchell
G - Max Strus
F - Isaack Okoro
F - Dean Wade
C - Evan Mobley
Darius Garland (hamstring) will miss another game, and Jarrett Allen (ankle), who has yet to play in a single game this season, has been ruled out as well. Joining them on the sidelines may be Caris Levert, who is currently listed as questionable with a hamstring injury.
This should be enough firepower missing from the Cavaliers lineup to favor a Knicks team that has been inconsistent so far this season and may come out of the gates flat in what could be a trap game. New York may not execute perfectly, and it may not always be pretty, but they should be able to out-talent Cleveland and run away with it in the second half as they did last night. 110-97, Knicks win and get over .500.
Who: New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers
When: 7:30 pm EST, Wednesday, Nov. 1
Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC
Watch: MSG Network