Cleveland Cavaliers vs. NY Knicks NBA Preview

The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-7), who are in second-place in the Central Division of the NBA Eastern Conference, visit the New York Knickerbockers (4-15) tonight. The Cavs have won four straight while the Knicks, who are fourth in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and 11 games out of first, have lost five in a row. The Cavaliers are 7.5-point favorites.

Keys for Cleveland

Cleveland comes to Madison Square Garden off a home stand where they won 4 of 5. This is the start of a series of games of which 4 of 5 are on the road. The return of LeBron James (24.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 7.4 APG) to the Cavs after playing with the Heat has put new life into the franchise. James, as he always is, will be a major factor in this contest. Along with being the leading scorer on the team, James is an able defender and creator of turnovers.

Joining James in the frontcourt is center Anderson Varejao (10.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG). Varejao hits 60% of his shots from the field, and is the team’s most consistent shooter. The backcourt includes Cleveland’s most able free throw shooter and 3-point man, point guard Kyrie Irving (21.5 PPG, 82% FT%, .420 3PT%). Along with power forward Kevin Love (17.9 PPG, 9.5 RPG), these players form the potent offensive thrust for the Cavs.

If this quartet, along with shooting guards Dion Walters and Joe Harris, can get the job done, especially in the frontcourt, then expect Cleveland to dominate the paint, grabbing offensive rebounds, and creating ample opportunities for second shots.

Keys for New York

The New York Knicks offer one of the better defenses in the league. They are 11th in points allowed, as teams are averaging 99.1 PPG against them. However, they have a very tough time on the offensive end, averaging 93.4 PPG (27th). They will need to do better than that if they are going to have a chance of winning tonight.

Knick small forward Carmelo Anthony (23.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.3 APG) is the team’s leading point scorer. Anthony can hit from just about anywhere, making him a solid threat. Power forward Amar’e Stoudemire (10.8 PPG, 7.9 RPG), who is second in scoring and first in field goal percentage (.556), brings good rebounding chops, while point guard Jose Calderon (10.7 PPG, 4.3 APG) is tops from the three-point arc, hitting almost 58%. Iman Shumpert (10.8 PPG) can knock it down from deep or drive inside to score.

The Knicks have less chemistry than the Cavs, and their lack of ball movement hurts them. Anthony is a great player, but he’s more likely to shoot than dish it off, and often that means that he’s taking low percentage shots. That hurts the Knicks in many different ways, as everyone else on the court becomes a secondary player.

Key Matchup

The big matchup is between James and Anthony. James gets the edge due to the fact that he makes everyone around him better. He’s able to not only score, but to set up opportunities for his teammates to put points on the board.

Final Thoughts

The Cavs surpass the Knicks on offense, averaging close to 104 PPG, and they are almost even with them on points allowed, as opponents are averaging just 99.9 PPG. To win this one the New York defense will have to play stellar for the entire game. Chances are, however, that Cleveland, with its premiere plays and solid bench, will wear the Knickerbockers down. Look for a fairly easy win tonight by the Cavaliers.

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West Brom v Man Utd Preview

West Bromwich Albion hosts Manchester United at their home ground, The Hawthorns on Monday. The Red Devils, as they are known, are coming in fresh after a two back to back victories to claim their position on the top four. Manchester United are looking strong, but the match may not as breezy as expected. The Baggies may put a dent in the fortunes of ManU, it is a faint, but present possibility. This is because just before the International break, they had two victories and lost only to Liverpool by a very small margin; they cannot be written off so easily. It is suggested that they have the potential to slice through the back end of the Manchester defence, which has been a little weak of late. It seems more than likely that both teams will be scoring in the match.

West Brom’s Saido Berahino is having a great season so far, and has scored six goals in the last nine matches and five of them have at home in the Hawthorns. The Red Devils, though have not lost a single match at the hawthorns, in fact the Baggies have lost every single match in the last seven encounters at home except one, which was a draw. United, on the outset is looking weak after their encounter and victory over Everton has left a good portion of their team in the treatment room. There are nine injured players in the Manchester United team as of now.

The list includes important players like- Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, each with hamstring injuries, Jonny Evans and Michael Carrick with ankle injuries, Jesse Lingard with a hurt knee, Chris Smalling with a thigh issue and Ashley Young with groin damage. Ander Herrera, who was taken in with a rib fracture has declared that the injury is not very severe and can get back on the field with a shot of painkillers. Wayne Rooney will be forced to sit this one out due to the three match ban that he faces.

The greater threat for United are the matches that follow, for which the team needs their top tier players for they will face off against the premier league rivals, Chelsea and Manchester City.

West Brom is facing only two omissions Anichebe, who had a hernia, Yacob who opted out due to personal reasons. The team is playing with most of their tested squad that they have retained, with Berahino leading the attack.

Even though Manchester United is bogged down by injuries, it is highly unlikely that they will lose this match and they have not won any of the last five matches played away from home this season. They have the power to deliver a lot of goals but their defence is a bit weak, and may even concede a few goals to the opposition. West Brom is looking strong, but may just not be strong enough to halt the onslaught of the Red Devils.

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Stoke v Swansea Preview

Stoke City and Swansea are to meet at the Britannia on Sunday, home game for Stoke City. This is a team that finished in the top ten last season, but it seems that it accounted to very little as a sense of frustration has set on the camp and their early in the season efforts can be described as nothing but indifferent. Their only high this season was at the Etihad; following this, they lost two of their three home games. Swansea is on a good roll, way ahead of the big guns Liverpool and Chelsea, almost equalling Manchester United. They started on a thumping three game victory, bringing nine points but only made two more in the next four matches after that. Consistency is plaguing this team as well. In the last three Premier league matches in the Britannia, they have managed only one point.

Experts point out that these teams are likely to finish at the bottom of the top half or the top of the bottom half this year, if they continue with the same performance that they are now putting on. Head to head, Stoke has performed better than Swansea at home, and they did not lose the last three matches. Another interesting fact here is that the team playing away has never won a single match in the Premier league between Stoke and Swansea.

Stoke does not have too many changes for the match, with Crouch leading the offence, there are only two players who might not make it to the field- Odemwingie, and Whelan with knee injuries. Peter Crouch is the man of the hour here and continues his stride in the game, the possibilities of a call back to the national side is proof of his quality and endurance in the game. Crouch has also been a fly in Swansea’s ointment as he has scored four times in the previous three matches at the Britannia.

Swansea is going into this match Bony leading the pack on the offence, while the team is the one with the smallest squad this year (18 players), every injury is going to hit them hard. Bony has been good, but again, inconsistent. With four players sitting out, three for injury and one suspension, they have limited space to work with and will have to make the best with what they have. Britton and Amat are both out with knee injuries, an ankle injury will put Donnelly on the bench and Shelvey is suspended.

Other factors that seem to have an outcome on the matches are the days in which they are played. Sundays seem to be a bad day for these teams. The Stokes, in the last six matches played on Sunday, have not won any of them.

Considering the fact that these teams seem to have lost their footing this tournament, this match is critical for both teams. For Swansea, if they want to get their stride back and for Stoke if they want to get out of their downward streak.