Knicks vs. Cavaliers Preview: Back New York on the Road

Kenny Ducey breaks down Sunday's NBA matchup between the New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Knicks vs. Cavaliers Odds

Knicks Odds +4
Cavaliers Odds -4
Over/Under 220.5
Time 6 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

The Knicks have had some nice moments so far this season, but one thing they’ve yet to do is win on the road. Sunday presents the latest opportunity to do so, but it’ll come against the mighty Cavaliers.

Cleveland has earned top marks on both ends of the floor this season and enters this one on a four-game winning streak. Will the good times keep rolling? Let’s break this one down.

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Can the Knicks Pull the Road Upset?

The Knicks hype train has slowed just a tad. After coming out of the gate with three straight wins against the spread, they’ve now failed to cover in the last two. They were up big on the Hornets before ultimately needing overtime to win, and they never really got close to threatening the Bucks days ago.

Those are two good teams, particularly the undefeated Bucks. The Knicks are still sitting in 12th when it comes to Offensive Efficiency and ninth on the defensive side. Still, games like that loss against the Bucks or Sunday’s tilt with the Cavaliers represent an opportunity for the Knicks to announce themselves as a serious player in the East.

An interesting development in the early going is the Knicks’ standing as a very average team in Pace. After running some painfully-slow possessions a season ago and ranking second-slowest in that department, they’re up in 16th in Pace thus far and have actually taken the most field goal attempts per game in the league.

They’ve managed to play at a fast enough pace and rank fourth-best in Turnover Rate, giving themselves every opportunity offensively. They’re also sixth in Rebounding Rate.

Can the Cavaliers Create Enough Offense Without Garland?

Cleveland stands seventh in Defensive Rating and third in Offensive Rating, checking in a hair above the Knicks in both categories. While they’ve certainly played well enough to earn numbers like that, there are some areas they haven’t been quite as sharp.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in Turnover Rate and 21st in Assist Rate, perhaps missing the leadership and playmaking ability of Darius Garland, who’s currently dealing with an eye injury and will once again miss this game. The shooting for Cleveland has been sublime, ranking fourth in True Shooting %, but it’s hard to sustain offensive output when you’re low in those two departments.

One area the Cavs could find an edge would be on the glass, considering they’re fourth in rebounding thus far, and New York is just 16th. The Knicks do rank sixth in offensive rebounding, and taking away those extra opportunities could certainly make the difference in a tight game.

Knicks-Cavaliers Pick

The Knicks have been incredible against 3-pointers for most of Tom Thibodeau’s time as head coach, but this season they’re sitting third in 3-point Success Rate against guarded looks. They’re also fourth against all shots outside of 15 feet. The Cavaliers rank dead last in field goal attempts per game inside of 10 feet, and a team this good against jumpers has to be a scary sight.

I think the Knicks’ offense, which is running wild right now, can pierce the armor of this Cavs defense just enough to not only cover this spread on Sunday but also win the game. I certainly don’t think it’ll take a Herculean effort given the way that they’ve defended jumpshots. Take the Knicks at +155 on the moneyline at bet365.

Pick: Knicks ML (+155)