New York (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0)
When: Tuesday, October 25th 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Time: 7:35 ET | TV: TNT
The Cleveland Cavaliers open their defense of the NBA Championship on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks at the same time the Cleveland Indians will be playing Game 1 of the World Series right next door. LeBron James and company are heavy favorites to win the Eastern Conference for the third straight year and continue the city of Cleveland’s recent run of good fortune. Cleveland overcame a 3-1 deficit in last year’s Finals to beat the Golden State Warriors, and coach Tyronn Lue is intent on limiting the wear and tear on James after the superstar made his sixth consecutive trip to the finals. James averaged 35.6 minutes during the 2015-16 regular season and bumped that number up to 39.1 during the postseason, and Lue expects those regular-season minutes to drop. “We’re being smart about the situation. We have one goal in mind, and that’s winning a championship,” Lue told reporters. Guard J.R. Smith appeared in only one preseason game after agreeing to a four-year, $57 million contract late in camp.
The New York Knicks hope to battle the rest of the East for the second-best team in the conference with the addition of some big free agents. The Knicks signed former Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah and point guard Derrick Rose and brought in Brandon Jennings and Courtney Lee to join Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis in new coach Jeff Hornacek’s system. Rose played in 66 games for the Bulls last season – his highest total since playing in 81 games in 2010-11, but missed two weeks of training camp and played in only one preseason game while taking time off to be in court for a civil trial related to an alleged sexual assault. Rose is still just 28 years old and has been cleared of all charges stemming from the trial. The former MVP averaged 16.4 points and 4.7 assists while shooting 42.7% from the floor last season and will be charged with running Hornacek’s offense.
Cleveland swept the season series 4-0 last year against New York, but the Knicks played tough and covered the spread in three of those. There’s going to be a lot of emotion in the building tonight with the banner drop and the World Series next door. New York should take advantage of all the distractions and keep this one close.
Pick: Knicks +9.5