Cleveland Cavaliers (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. New York Knicks (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Friday, November 6, 2009, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cavaliers -8.5/Knicks +8.5
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The Cleveland Cavaliers have not started the way they would have liked to. They started the season 0-2 with losses to the Celtics and Raptors, before winning three straight over the Timberwolves, Bobcats and Wizards. But they fell to 3-3 with a loss at home on Thursday to the Bulls, 86-85. The Cavs lost two games all of last season at home, and they’ve already lost two home games this season.
Not many people outside of New York expected the Knicks to be a good team this season, so it’s no surprise that they are 1-4. Any time a superstar like LeBron James visits Madison Square Garden, it’s a special event, and that will be the case Friday night as the Knicks host the Cavs.
On Thursday night against the Bulls, LeBron had a chance to win the game in the final seconds but he lost the ball out of bounds while driving to the basket and the Bulls hung on for a one-point victory. LeBron had 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists, Shaquille O’Neal had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Anderson Varejao had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Mo Williams and Anthony Parker each checked in with 11 points. The Cavs only shot 40 percent from the field and they only forced six turnovers. Sure, the Cavs outrebounded the Bulls 49-43 and held the Bulls to 40 percent shooting as well, but if they aren’t forcing turnovers and getting some easy baskets and they’re not shooting well on offense, it’s going to be tough to score enough points to win. LeBron can’t do it all himself, either.
Surprisingly, the Knicks have been led by Al Harrington, who is averaging 24 points per game off the bench. Overall, David Lee has been the most productive Knick with about 19 points and 12 rebounds per game. Danilo Gallinari has shown what he can do so far with nearly 18 points per game. Larry Hughes, Wilson Chandler and Chris Duhon are all scoring in double digits as well. Offense hasn’t been the problem for the Knicks. For the talent they have, they’ve been scoring fairly well. There may not be a team with less pure talent than the Knicks right now, yet they’re one of the highest scoring teams in the NBA. But their defense has been miserable. The Knicks have allowed more than 100 points in every game this season. If they allowed over 100 points to teams like the Heat, Bobcats, 76ers, Hornets and Pacers, LeBron and the Cavs should be able to easily score over 100 against the Knicks.
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There is no question that the Cavs are the much better team in this matchup. Coming off a loss, the Cavs are going to make sure they play well enough to get a win over a much weaker opponent and stay over .500 for the season. Then, there’s the factor of playing in New York at Madison Square Garden. LeBron and Shaq thrive for these games. It should be an entertaining up-and-down game because of the style the Knicks play, so LeBron should be able to score over 30 points and the Cavs should have their highest offensive output of the season so far.
In one game last season, when the Cavs won 107-102 over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, LeBron put up a triple-double with 52 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the most points scored in a triple-double since the NBA-ABA merger. Unfortunately for LeBron, a few days later, one of his rebounds was taken away, so he technically didn’t end up with the triple-double. Harrington led the Knicks that night with 39 points and 13 rebounds.
Last season, the Cavaliers were 15-4 ATS and 16-3 SU in their next game after a loss. Of those 19 games, 12 of them went over. The Cavs swept all four games against the Knicks last season. The last four games between the Cavs and Knicks at Madison Square Garden have all seen a total of more than 205 points scored. Three of the Knicks’ five games this season have had a total of at least 208 points, and four of them have been at least 202.
Ryno’s Pick: LeBron destroyed the Knicks at MSG on February 4 last season. He will be able to do the same Friday night. Maybe he won’t score 52 points again, but he should be able to tear up the Knicks defense. LeBron isn’t going to play in the world’s most famous arena the night after a one-point loss and not stand out. The Cavs will bounce back with an impressive dominating performance. As per the above-mentioned trends, the Cavs and the over are both great plays in this game. The Cavs should dominate the Knicks but because of the Cavs’ offensive struggles and the Knicks’ lack of talent, the over is a little more risky than the Cavs. Take the Cavaliers -8.5.