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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Game 46: Cavs at Knicks

Madison Square Garden
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/TNT

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs got to air their dirty laundry on national-television. In their first and probably last appearance on TNT in a long, long time, everyone in the country got to see the fractured Cavs.

There is something drastically wrong with this team. By now, you know Coach Mike Brown's aversion to defense. It's almost like the players are just thumbing their nose at the coach and doing just the opposite of what he's preaching.

The Cavs aren't defending, sharing the ball (14 assists), shooting the ball well (36 percent from the field), rebounding (Knicks had a 44-36 edge) or running the fastbreak (outscored 22-8). Other than that, they played well.

Let's add coaching to the blacklist. Whatever the coaches are preaching, the players are ignoring.

TNT analyst Greg Anthony summed it up during the game. "Whenever a team isn't playing hard, there's usually something wrong internally," he said. "There's something wrong in the locker room."

He's right. I don't know what exactly is happening with this team, other than the fact that it isn't a team. It has no chemistry. Players are just doing their own thing.

After they go 0-3 on this road trip, it's probably not going to matter any more. This team is not a playoff team by any sense of the word. They don't belong in the playoffs, and don't deserve to be in the playoffs.

If Cavs general manager Chris Grant is retained after the season, he'll need to clean house with this bunch he's put together. However, that's a big if. Many around the league think he'll be out of work after this season. I'm not totally convinced yet that he'll be fired.

Meanwhile, the Knicks have won four in a row and appear to be straightening themselves out a little bit.

The Cavs are in a free fall. They've lost five of their last six.

They played without center Anderson Varejao again tonight. He's now missed two games - and counting - with the hyperextended left knee. He's been fitted with a knee brace. His defense and rebounding has been missed.

Tyler Zeller made his second consecutive start, and couldn't have played worse. In fact, I'd much rather see Henry Sims at this point.

The Knicks have won five in a row over the Cavs. If any team is going to beat the Knicks right now, it will have to figure out a way to slow down forward Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony scored an NBA-high 62 points against Charlotte on Jan. 24 - the most points ever scored in the 68-year history of the Knicks.

Anthony had a game-high 29 points, 18 in the first quarter. He became the 50th player in NBA history to reach 19,000 career points.

The 6-8 forward is second to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant in scoring at 27.2 per game.

The Knicks were banged up with forward/center Andrea Bargnani, forward/center Amar'e Stoudemire, guard Iman Shumpert and power forward Kenyon Martin sidelined. That meant nothing. The Cavs rarely, if ever, take advantage of a short-handed team.

Forward Anthony Bennett, coming off his best game of his career against New Orleans, was awful. He had four points and two rebounds and made 1 of 6 shots.

This was the first leg of a three-game road trip for the Cavs. It was also their best chance at a victory on the trip. 

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Houston at 8 p.m. Saturday at Toyota Center.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. J.R. Smith (6-6, 210)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Carmelo Anthony (6-8, 235)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Tyson Chandler (7-1, 240)
SG C.J. Miles (6-6, 231) vs. Pablo Prigioni (6-3, 185)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Raymond Felton (6-1, 205)
Cavs - F/C Anderson Varejao, G Carrick Felix
Knicks - F/C Andrea Bargnani, F/C Amar'e Stoudemire
Ed Malloy, Marat Kogut, Eric Lewis


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