After winning both games at home, the New York Knicks travel to Cleveland to try to close out the Cavaliers in Game 5.
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#5 New York Knicks (47-35) @ #4 Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
How to Watch:
- Date: Wednesday, April 26th
- Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
- Channel: NBA TV
- Spread: CLE -5.5
- Moneyline: CLE (-225), NYK (+185)
- Game total: 202.5
The New York Knicks are one game away from winning their first playoff series since 2013 and have won five of the seven games they’ve played against Cleveland this year in the regular season and playoffs. Perhaps the Knicks are just a better team than the Cavaliers?
In the first four games of this series, the Knicks’ defense has been in the spotlight. They held the Cavaliers under 100 points in each of their three wins, and the 94 points per game the Knicks have allowed is the 2nd-best in the playoffs behind the 76ers who dominated the Nets.
The Knicks are also the only team this year to hold an opponent under 80 points when they limited the Cavaliers to 79 in Game 3.
Despite New York coming into the series with a weakness against good three-point shooting teams, Cleveland hasn’t capitalized outside of Game 2 when they shot 42.4% from deep. On the series, Cleveland is shooting just 30.8% from beyond the arc, which has held them back tremendously.
They need to start hitting their long-range shots because the Knicks came into this series with a massive advantage on the glass and with their bench, and both of those have played out in New York’s favor. The Knicks’ +5.7 rebounding differential is the 2nd-most in the playoffs, and its bench has a +3.4 Net Rating, which is also a top-three mark in the Eastern Conference.
New York’s +3.7 steals differential is the best in the NBA Playoffs so far, and the 14.5 offensive rebounds per game they’ve averaged against Cleveland is also the most of any team in the playoffs this year, as is the 15.8 turnovers per game New York has forced.
Those are huge advantages that have allowed New York to claim a 3-1 series lead despite not getting a great offensive performance.
The Knicks are averaging 98 points per game thus far in the series while shooting under 43% from the field overall and under 28% from 3pt range. They’ve also only gotten 14.8 points per game from Julius Randle and had him on the bench for the entire fourth quarter in their Game 4 win.
While much of the poor offensive performance can be attributed to Cleveland’s strong defense, the Knicks are also due some positive regression on their playoff-worst 27.5% 3-point shooting. They might even get a healthy game from Randle or Quentin Grimes. Or even a strong performance from Immanuel Quickley, who has been a non-factor on offense in this series.
Considering how many ways New York has underperformed so far, the fact that they still have a 3-1 lead makes this line a bit confusing. Yes, Cleveland can certainly win this game at home behind their crowd and strong defense, but New York seems like the better team, so taking the Knicks +5.5 points appears to be a pretty solid bet, even if you don’t think they win the game outright.
For more Knicks coverage, visit amNY Sports
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