The Cleveland Cavaliers will likely see the New York Knicks for the last time this season on February 23.
The Cavaliers and the Knicks are meeting for the fourth time on Thursday, which will conclude the regular season series. Tipoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena. The game will be televised by TNT.
Cleveland is not expected to make a deal before the NBA trade deadline. However, there are a few rumors floating around the team. ESPN reported that the Cavaliers are interested in Houston Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley while the Rockets like Iman Shumpert. A deal is unlikely to take place. Sam Amico of Amico Hoops reported that the Cavs worked out former Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders.
Adding a point guard and another big man has been on the Cavs wish list for awhile. Cleveland did make one move over the All-Star break, which was to sign forward Derrick Williams to a second, 10-day contract according to Pro Basketball Talk. Williams averaged 9.8 points along with three rebounds while shooting 60.0 percent from the field in just under 23 minutes of action.
Cleveland (39-16) has the best record in the Eastern Conference, holding a three-game lead over the Boston Celtics. The Cavs have turned things around in February posting an NBA-best 7-1 record after going 7-8 in January. The Cavaliers are outscoring their opponents by 9.9 points a game as they are averaging a season-high 121.1 points and shooting over 51 percent from the field for the month. They have shot over 50 percent from the field in five of their last eight games.
LeBron James has picked up his game this month, averaging 27.1 point and 10.6 assists while shooting an incredible 63.4 percent from the field and 60.6 percent on his three-point attempts. James will likely continue being aggressive with Kevin Love out for around five more weeks after undergoing arthroscopic on his left knee.
While there has been a little trade buzz surrounding the Cavs, there has been a lot of chatter surrounding the Knicks. Most of the current trade talk has been about Derrick Rose though there is still some rumblings of the team trading Carmelo Anthony. However, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News doesn’t expect the Knicks to make any deals before the trade deadline.
New York (23-35) has lost seven of 10 and is just 7-17 since the calendar turned to 2017. The Knicks are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, four games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. So, while it is still conceivable the Knicks make a run, it is highly unlikely they do so.
Defense continues to be an issue for the Knicks, who have surrendered at least 111 points in seven of their last nine contests. The Knicks are ranked 25th in the league in scoring defense, permitting 109.2 points a game.
Anthony leads the Knicks with 23.4 points a game. Meanwhile, Kristaps Porzingis continues to grow his game. Porzingis, who won the Skills competition at the All-Star game, is compiling 18.3 points along with 7.1 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor as well as 38.4 percent from behind the arc.
Cleveland leads the season-series against New York 3-0 and has won the last nine meetings overall. The Cavs have scored at least 111 points in each of those contests and have held the Knicks to under the century mark in two of the three games. The Cavaliers defeated the Knicks 111-104 on Feb. 4 at Madison Square Garden as James poured in 32 points, on 12-of-20 shooting, and doled out 10 assists.
Lebron James: James is playing a lot of minutes though he is not showing any ill effects. He has made 2.5 three-pointers in the month of February, and is currently on pace to average his most triples in a season as he is making a career-high 1.8 treys.
Kyrie Irving: Irving is having his most productive year of his career, averaging 24.9 points a game. And his scoring should only increase with Love out. He has a career-best eight double-doubles this season.
Kyle Korver: Korver has three, 20-point games in 19 games with the Cavs. He is averaging 11.0 points and has made 2.7 three-pointers while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 51.5 percent from beyond the arc with the team.
Tristan Thompson: Thompson is enjoying his best month of the season, accumulating five double-doubles and averaging 13.4 points along with 10.3 caroms.
Carmelo Anthony: Anthony has scored 25 or more points in four consecutive games.
Kristaps Porzingis: Porzingis has been inconsistent this season, and it has continued in the month of February. He has reached double-figures in six of seven games though he has just one double-double this month. Porzingis has been plagued by foul trouble this season, being disqualified five times.
Derrick Rose: Rose has scored in double-figures in four straight games, and is averaging 16.2 points while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor in five games this month.
Willy Hernangomez: Hernangomez has seen increased playing time as the season has progressed. He is averaging 11.0 points and 9.4 boards while shooting 58.2 percent from the floor this month.
James will put 28 points and 10 assists along with seven rebounds though he also turn the ball over four times: James is averaging 25.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 63.6 percent from the floor against the Knicks this season. He is turning the ball over a career-worst 12.5 percent of the time he has the ball in his hands.
Thompson will post a double-double: Thompson has three a season-high three straight double-doubles and is shooting 63.1 percent from the field. He should continue his offensive uptick with Love out.
Cleveland will drain at least 15 three-pointers: The Cavs are making an average of 17 trifectas against the Knicks. The Cavaliers have made 15 or more treys in six February games and are shooting 43.6 percent for beyond the arc this month. Cleveland ranks second in the league with 722 three-pointers.
Anthony will score 22 points and make a pair of three-pointers: Anthony has struggled against Cleveland this year, compiling 14.3 points as he is shooting only 38.3 percent from the field. He has been shooting the ball better of late, however, making 46.4 percent of his shots and 2.9 three-pointers in February.
Porzingis will commit at least four fouls: The 21-year-old Latvian has been whistled for four fouls in a game more than 30 times this season, including eight of the last 11 games. He has fouled out twice during the recent stretch.
Hernangomez will score in double-figures: This is predicated on how many minutes Hernangomez sees on the court. The 22-year-old Spaniard is averaging 9.7 points and 4.3 caroms in 20 minutes a game against the Cavs.
Score: Cavs 110, Knicks 95
Cleveland has been the Knicks by an average of 22.7 points this season as they have outscored them 118-95.3. The Cavs are shooting 48.4 percent from the field against the Knicks.
Cleveland has won five in a row at home where they have the second-best record in the NBA at 24-5. During their five-game home winning streak, the Cavs are averaging 118.8 points on.508 shooting from the field and are winning by an average margin of 15.4 points. The Cavaliers are 13-0 against Atlantic Division teams this year.
New York is 9-19 on the road. The Knicks have relatively been consistent all year on the offensive, averaging 106.1 points a game — which ranks 12th in the league. The main difference has been on the defensive end, the Knicks are being outscored by over five points on the road. New York’s opponents shoot almost four more free throws at their place than they do at MSG.
[Featured Image by Andres Kudacki/AP Images]