The NBA Playoffs return with the No. 5 seed New York Knicks (47-35) taking on the No. 4 seed Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) in the Eastern Conference First Round. Action tips off at 6:00 p.m. ET Saturday evening. Below we continue our NBA odds series with a Knicks-Cavaliers Game 1 prediction, pick, and how to watch.
Here are the Knicks-Cavaliers NBA odds, courtesy of FanDuel
NBA Odds: Knicks-Cavaliers Odds
New York Knicks: +5.5 (-108)
Cleveland Cavaliers: -5.5 (-112)
Over: 214.5 (-110)
Under: 214.5 (-110)
How To Watch Knicks vs. Cavaliers
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET/ 3:00 p.m. PT
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Why The Knicks Could Cover The Spread
Last 10: 5-5
ATS Record: 44-34-4 (56%)
Over Record: 43-37-2 (54%)
New York enters game one with their starters having nearly two weeks of rest. With the Knicks locked into the No. 5 seed, they were able to rest some of their veterans. That bodes well for them entering the playoffs, especially with Julius Randle's status up in the air. Randle injured his ankle at the end of March and hasn't played since March 29th. While he was participating in non-contact portions of practice this week, it remains to be seen whether or not they clear him by Saturday night. That could have massive implications on the overall spread and therefore Knicks' backers would be wise to wait until his status is confirmed before making a move on their spread. That being said, New York got a ton of production from their role players in his absence and there exists some speculation the team played better with him off the floor.
The Knicks made the most of their regular season series against the Knicks, winning three of four games. It wasn't like all of those games came during a down part in Cleveland's season, either. After dropping the opener to the Cavaliers in October, the Knicks won 92-81 in December, 105-103 in January, and 130-116 in March. That being said, the only game both teams were fully for was the opener, and thus game one could look completely different than the regular season. Still, the Knicks must feel good about their prior performances against Cleveland. New York held Cleveland to just 105.3 PPG and out-rebounded them by 7.3 RPG. Containing Cleveland's offense will be key as their elite defense will keep the Cavaliers in nearly every game.
With Julius Randle's status up in the air, look for Jalen Brunson to continue to operate as the unquestioned alpha dog on offense. Brunson took a massive leap forward in his first season in New York, averaging 24.0 PPG and 6.2 APG while shooting 49% from the floor and 42% from three. Although Cleveland held him in check in their first three matchups, he exploded for 48 points in the series finale. While another 40-piece may be asking too much of him, Brunson showed last season he's no stranger to the bright lights of the postseason.
Why The Cavaliers Could Cover The Spread
Last 10: 7-3
ATS Record: 42-36-4 (54%)
Over Record: 40-42 (49%)
Cleveland looks to avenge three regular-season losses to New York in game one. While the Cavaliers won the opener, they lost the next three games including a recent 116-130 home beatdown. Still, the Cavaliers tracked as advanced metric darlings and sit as serious dark horses to make a run at the NBA Finals. Cleveland allowed the fewest points per game in the NBA during the regular season as they were dominant on that end of the floor. That being said, they were vulnerable on the glass and had difficult scoring at times.
The Cavaliers should get a ton of production from their guards in game one. Both Donovan Mitchell (28.3 PPG) and Darius Garland (21.6 PPG, 7.8 APG) finished with strong seasons. Mitchell in particular projects for a monster series given his track record in the postseason and against New York. Mitchell owns a career postseason scoring average of 28.3 PPG. Twice he averaged more than 30 PPG in the postseason as he dropped 36.3 PPG in 2019-20 and 32.3 PPG in 2020-21. Still, he struggled mightily in 2021-22 and thus has a lot to prove this year. That being said, Mitchell averaged 31.8 PPGad 7.5 APG against New York during the regular season and he should have his way with them in game one.
The X-factor for Cleveland tonight is big man Evan Mobley. The 21-year-old forward took a massive leap over the second half of the season when he averaged 17.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 2.0 BPG. The former No. 3 overall pick possesses sky-high potential but struggled in four games against New York this season. With arguably the highest long-term upside in the series, the question remains of whether Mobley takes another leap in his first postseason.
Final Knicks-Cavaliers Prediction & Pick
With Randle's status up in the air and the Cavaliers at home, I like Cleveland to win and cover.
Final Knicks-Cavaliers Prediction & Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -5.5 (-112)