If Game 1 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks was any indication, we're going to be in for an extremely tightly contested first-round series.
The Knicks emerged from Saturday's tilt with a win and seized home-court advantage on the back of their offensive rebounding, depth and defensive tenacity. Julius Randle was big time. Jalen Brunson was even better. The Knicks offense, while far from perfect, did an excellent job attacking mismatches and forcing Cleveland's smaller guards into their actions. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, were also far from perfect themselves. Their hole at the 3 spot looked more gigantic than normal, their spacing was bad and Evan Mobley struggled with his efficiency.
Coming out of Game 1, the prevailing sentiment leaned in favor of the Knicks. However, it seems to have shifted back toward the Cavaliers ahead of Game 2. Just take a look at the latest odds for the 2023 NBA playoffs entering this matchup:
|New York Knicks||+180||+160||+185|
Like usual, you'll want to double-check these NBA online betting odds until you actually submit your wager. Our Cavaliers vs. Knicks betting odds are accurate as of Monday, April 17. That gives linemakers plenty of time to incorporate adjustments before opening tip-off on Tuesday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. EST.
Any last-minute changes won't be an issue, of course, if you sign up with the right lines provider. That's why we strongly recommend checking out our reviews of the top online sportsbooks. We've compiled all the information you need to spot the best online betting sites for the 2023 NBA playoffs.
With all this in mind, do the Knicks have the capacity to jump out to a 2-0 series lead over the Cavaliers? Or will Cleveland find a way to emerge victorious in what's, quite frankly, a must-win Game 2?
Expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to be Better in Game 2
A lot of people have tried to portray the Knicks as the clear favorites following their Game 1 victory. This is a mistake. While the Knicks may not have played their best game, the Cavs were even further away from their peak. Evan Mobley looked lost on offense, Caris LeVert shot 1-of-7 from the floor, and Cleveland didn't operate with any semblance of synergy on defense for stretches at a time.
Some of the tables will invariably turn on Tuesday night. At least one of Mobley and LeVert will play better, and even if the Cavs still struggle to get more offense out of its small forward rotation, they should knock down more three-pointers than they did in Game 1.
What's more, the Knicks will likely be playing without Josh Hart, who was no worse than their second-best player on Saturday. New York has downgraded him to doubtful with an ankle injury. Without him in the lineup, a greater defensive burden will be placed upon RJ Barrett, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley. They're all capable of stepping up, but they all also struggled against Cleveland's size on defense in Game 1.
New York can probably count on more efficient performances from Randle and Brunson in Game 2. Then again, that's not guaranteed. They both need to get in the lane to maximize their offensive returns. That's a lot harder to do during the minutes when Mobley and Jarrett Allen are sharing the floor for the Cavaliers. And though the Knicks have brutalized opponents on the offensive glass all year, we expect Cleveland to futz around with its one-big lineups to put up more of a fight in those situations.
Don't get this twisted: New York has the superior depth and is absolutely capable of winning this series. But if we've learned anything about these two teams, it's that every game will be a rock fight. And when matchups turn into a deliberate slog, we're compelled to trust the team with the better pull-up jump shooters. Thanks to Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, that would be the Cavaliers.
OSB Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers (-215)
Nobody Expects a Blowout Between New York and Cleveland
Here are the latest NBA point spread betting odds for Cavaliers vs. Knicks on Tuesday night:
- Cleveland Cavaliers, -5.5 (-110)
- New York Knicks, +5.5 (-110)
We are tempted to pick the Cavs to cover the point spread here. Even though they lost Game 1, their starting lineup outperformed New York's by a comfortable margin. Most of the Knicks' starters, in fact, finished with a single-game plus-minus in the negatives. Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes were the only two who ended as net positives, in large part because they spent more time going up against Cleveland's bench players.
Still, the Knicks' depth is kind of the point. They have outplayed opposing second units all year, which has kept them in a ton of games. Even if Cleveland's starters get the clear advantage again, a better game from Immanuel Quickley will go a long way.
Keep an eye on this line, though. You could see oddsmakers give the Knicks another point or two if Josh Hart winds up playing.
OSB Prediction: New York Knicks, +5.5 (-110)
Will the Cavaliers or Knicks be Any Better on Offense in Game 2?
Based off the latest NBA over/under betting odds for Knicks vs. Cavaliers, the answer to this question is fairly ambiguous:
- Over 214.5 (-110)
- Under 214.5 (-110)
Kudos to oddsmakers for dropping the over/under from Game 1. But we still think it's too high.
Neither the Cavs nor Knicks are looking to run, and they have both struggled to prop up adequate three-point volume this year. We must also consider the breadth of injuries the Knicks are dealing with. Brunson is playing through a hand issue, Randle just returned from a sprained ankle, and Hart is expected to miss Game 2.
Indeed, both New York and Cleveland might be better on offense Tuesday night. But their pace of play is eerily similar and conducive to sub-100-point outings on a regular basis. There's a chance Game 2, much like Game 1, fails to eclipse 200 total points.
OSB Prediction: Under 214.5 (-110)
Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your 2023 NBA playoffs betting: