The Cavaliers have a league-low 11 wins and have suffered through an NBA-record 26-game losing streak this season. So you'd think confidence is something that's been hard to find in Cleveland.
But that's not the case against the Knicks, according to coach Byron Scott. The coach said, based on their success against New York this season, the Cavaliers will have ‘a little confidence’ when they hit the Garden floor tonight against the Knicks.
“I think the biggest thing is we know we can play with them,” the Cavs coach said before the team’s shootaround on Friday morning.
Cleveland is 2-0 against the Knicks, the most recent win coming Feb. 25 in Carmelo Anthony’s second game with New York. That night, the Cavs outrebounded the Knicks, 62-42, en route to a 115-109 win.
“Our guys were just aggressive we just went after everything,” Scott said. “I thought we were the more aggressive team that night, played a physical style of basketball that we hadn’t really been playing against them. It just seemed like we wanted it a lot more.”
J.J. Hickson, who had 15 rebounds against the Knicks last Friday, agreed, adding that the Cavs “outworked and outplayed” the Knicks that night.
New York (31-28), coming off a dominant win over New Orleans on Wednesday, may be without point guard Chauncey Billups, who is out with a deep left thigh bruise. If Billups is out, Hickson likes the Cavs’ chances.
“Not having him is a big advantage to our side,” the Cavs forward said.
Baron Davis is expected to make his debut with the Cavaliers (11-49) tonight after missing the previous three games with a sore left knee.
Anthony said after Thursday’s practice that tonight’s game will be a “payback” game against the Knicks given what happened last time in Cleveland.
“Tomorrow is a payback game, man," Anthony said. "It left a bitter taste in my mouth and in the team's mouth, and we remember that. We hold grudges."
Scott said he disregards that kind of talk as a coach. But, back in his playing days, it was a different story.
“It pissed me off. I wanted to really get after them then,” he said, adding, “Carmelo’s already talking about ‘this is payback’ we’ll see how it happens.”
The Cavs also beat the Knicks, 109-102, on Dec. 18. Their 26-game losing streak started the next night.
But that seemingly endless skid is in the past for Scott. He hopes the Cavs play with the same intensity on Friday night that they showed the last time they played New York.
“We just seemed to play with a little bit more of a confidence. Hopefully that will be the same case tonight - we’ll come out with that same type of confidence,” the coach said.