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On the fringes of the play-in race, the Knicks begin the hardest part of their schedule in Cleveland. Plus, Utah heads into Phoenix. NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his predictions and picks for Monday night.
ANALYSIS

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks Prediction: How Will the Knicks Fare Into the Gauntlet?

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

When: Monday, January 24, 7:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass/ MSG Network

Click Here for Cavaliers vs Knicks Odds

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Cavaliers vs. Knicks Line Movement

To quote the great coach (and former Knick president) Phil Jackson, seasons can turn on a trifle.

Last year, New York had a record of 24-23 after 47 games. At the time, the feeling was that they had already had a successful season. Picked to win fewer games than anyone in basketball, to even hang around the playoff race for as long as they did was seen as an accomplishment. From there though, things got even better, with 17 wins in their last 25 games. It was arguably the most fun season in decades for the downtrodden franchise.

Fast forward to this season. The Knicks were an Alec Burks made three at the buzzer from beating the Timberwolves at home on Tuesday night. Had it gone in, they'd be sitting with the exact same record as last season despite a 180 from Julius Randle, who has gone from MVP candidate to local pariah because of his inconsistent play.

Not to say that a one-game improvement would change fans' feelings about this team all too much. Last season's magical ride was defined by overcoming expectations, evidenced by what was by far the best regular-season record against the spread. This year, their record ATS matches their on-court record - one game under .500.

On the bright side, they enter a road-heavy stretch of 15 out of 21 away from home with an 11-10 record ATS away from MSG. They also have a 4-2 record ATS on the second game of a back to back, which they are here. On the downside, they're heading into Cleveland, which has two covers for every drop in their own building, good for the second-best mark in the league. The Cavs have also won six of seven outright, and still own the best net rating in the East.

It should be noted that Lauri Markkannen, who has started at small forward all season long, is out, which will further thin out an already thin Cavs rotation. That said, Cleveland's strength is their interior defense, and right now the Knicks' best offense is coming off of RJ Barrett drives. He's much improved, but also hasn't yet shown the consistency to overcome great rim protection. In turn, the Knicks will have to rely on their outside shooting to stay in this. Yesterday, they shot 44 percent from deep, but that comes and goes.

This could go either way, and the deciding factor could wind up being the health of Mitchell Robinson, who tweaked an ankle yesterday. His status is uncertain. If he plays, take the points on the road, as he's been dynamite of late and will help clean up a lot of those Barrett misses at the rim. If he's out, Cleveland is probably the bet.

Cavaliers vs. Knicks Pick

Cavaliers -6 (-105) (Bet $105 to Win $100)

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz Prediction

When: 9:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: NBA TV

Click Here for Suns vs Jazz Odds

Suns vs. Jazz Line Movement

What should be a battle of the titans is shaping up to be far more one-sided.

The Phoenix Suns are winners of nine of ten games overall and 7-3 against the spread in that stretch. They are widening their margin as the best team in basketball and now face the Jazz in the first half of a home and home. Donovan Mitchell, who will miss this game in concussion protocols, could be back for the Wednesday game in Utah, so Phoenix will know it has to take care of business here.

Speaking of Utah, they have been struggling. Losers of seven of their last nine, they've also covered just one of those games. It is an unexpected fall from grace for a team that has utterly dominated the regular season going back to the start of last year. Without their offensive engine, they simply aren't the same team.

This line feels too big when you see the names of the team but their recent play indicates it's not large enough. Give the points on the road.

Suns vs. Jazz Pick

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Article Author

NBA

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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