The Cavaliers entered the All-Star break on a hot streak, by their standards, winning three of their last five games. Two of those wins came against Sacramento and Detroit, so we should keep things in proper perspective.
It doesn't help that they lost to Boston in their first game after the break on Tuesday.
The Knicks have been the darlings of the NBA since the beginning of February thanks to Jeremy Lin. For all that hoopla, they are still just 17-18. The second half is going to be the true test for Linsanity, because the rest of the league has been able to properly prepare for him.
Where: Madison Square Garden in New York, New York
When: Wednesday, Feb. 29 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Watch: FOX Sports Ohio (Cleveland); MSG Network (New York)
Live Stream: NBA League Pass, prices start at $29.95 per month
Betting Line: New York (-9.5), according to Vegas Insider
Cleveland Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Out: C Anderson Varejao (Wrist)
Questionable: PG Kyrie Irving (Elbow)
New York Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
Doubtful: SG Bill Walker (Elbow)
Questionable: PG Iman Shumpert (Knee), C Josh Harrellson (Wrist), C Tyson Chandler (Wrist)
What They Are Saying
Kyrie Irving has been everything that the Cavaliers were hoping for when they made him the No. 1 pick in last year's draft. You could feel the sense of panic come over the city when the rookie point guard went down with an arm injury in the second quarter on Tuesday night. He was concerned about it too.
Here is what he said after Tuesday's game against the Celtics (via Cleveland Plain Dealer): "I thought I'd need my hand amputated. There was numbness in my hand. I didn't know what to do. My elbow hit the floor. They settled me down. It was my first almost injury," said Irving.
Irving did return to the game and even scored 19 points in the second half. Imagine how great he can be when the team surrounds him with better players.
Jeremy Lin looks at the roster of the Knicks and sees what this team could be. He is even talking about them being as deep as anyone in the NBA (via New York Daily News):
I mean, we’re unbelievably talented. You look on the headlines, you look on ESPN, you see ‘Lin this, Lin that.’ But we may be the deepest team in the NBA. So I think we should start talking about that as well.
While it is a stretch to say the Knicks are the deepest team in the NBA, they do have more talent than their record would indicate. We shall see if they can start playing up to their potential after some time off.
Most Important Player: SF Carmelo Anthony
Jeremy Lin is going to grab all the headlines, but the performance of Anthony should not be overlooked. He is the key to the success or failure of the Knicks this season.
Anthony is still looking to find his shot, but the All-Star break could have done him some good. Now he can start with a clean slate. He needs to show signs of improvement sooner rather than later if this team wants to compete with the big boys.
Key Matchup: Jeremy Lin vs. Kyrie Irving
Two great, young point guards doing battle in Madison Square Garden should always be the focal point. Everyone is paying attention to Lin, which is easy to understand. But Irving is the better player at this stage.
We have seen countless young stars have their coming out party against the Knicks in New York. Irving is carrying the burden for the Cavaliers right now, and he will be asked to do it again in this game.
Lin will look to get his game back on track after the Miami Heat smothered him in the final game before the break. Fortunately, the Cavaliers are nowhere near as strong as the boys from South Beach on defense.
The Cavaliers have played better this season than most of us expected, but the Knicks are more talented and will overwhelm them in this contest.
Knicks 97, Cavaliers 90
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