Knicks begin tough stretch with a date against Cavaliers

RJ Barrett, New York Knicks

The New York Knicks have already lost four straight games, and their schedule does not get easier as they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday back home at Madison Square Garden.

Tuesday’s game starts a grueling stretch that sees the Knicks play six of their next seven games against teams .500 or better. The Cavs enter this game as the Eastern Conference’s fifth seed at 29-19 and are 18-8 against conference opponents this season.

This is the third matchup between these two teams this season. Both teams are 1-1, with the last being the Knicks’ best defensive game of the season, allowing just 81 points in a victory that kickstarted their season-high eight-game winning streak.

However, the Knicks have started to throw away the success that December brought, and they must turn it around with a win on Tuesday.

The Knicks must turn things around now

Things have been getting ugly for the Knicks. Along with the four consecutive losses, they also will not have their defensive anchor Mitchell Robinson for the next few weeks and likely a month.

Therefore, the Knicks will have to get through this stretch of tough games without Robinson, and Tuesday’s game will not be easy.

The Cavaliers’ frontcourt pair of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen is one of the best defensive pairs in the entire NBA. Without their best rebounder, the Knicks will likely have significantly less second-chance opportunities. Therefore, the Knicks will not be able to rely on second-chance opportunities as much and will have knock their first shot attempts in possessions more often.

The Knicks will also have to defend well in the backcourt against the Cavs’ All-Star pair in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell. New York’s best perimeter defender, Immanuel Quickley, is questionable for Tuesday’s game with a sore knee after missing their last game with that injury.

If Quickley cannot go, then it will likely be a very tough night defending Garland and Mitchell. The Knicks may need to play Miles McBride extra minutes strictly for his perimeter defense.

Given that Garland and Mitchell are not marketed as great defenders, this would be a prime opportunity for Jalen Brunson to get to his sweet spots in the mid-range and restricted area and put up big numbers.

Obi Toppin should also play more than 10 minutes like he did last game to help provide some scoring depth off the bench with the decimated roster.

Despite the Knicks’ struggles at home this season, they are actually at an advantage for Tuesday’s matchup. The Cavs are just 9-14 on the road this season and have lost five of their last eight games played away from Cleveland.

Therefore, the Knicks must take advantage and get themselves back in the win column to prevent things from completely faltering.

Looking at injuries, Quickley is questionable for the Knicks with the sore knee, while Robinson is out with his thumb injury. For the Cavs, Donovan Mitchell (groin strain) is probable.

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