The Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks are preparing for Game 3 of their first round matchup in the 2023 NBA Playoffs. In Game 2, the Cavs beat the Knicks 107-90, controlling the pace of the game from the tip-off. It was a much different story from Game 1, a contest that saw the Knicks come away with a 101-97 win. Either way, this series looks like it could go in either direction right now, something bettors won’t be too keen of. With the series shifting to New York, there are a few factors to consider when making picks for the rest of this series.
As of right now, the Cavs are +2 against the Knicks for Game 3. Friday’s game will surely see a raucous Madison Square Garden, something the Knicks will look to take advantage of. Given it being the first home game for the Knicks, and the fact they took Game 1 in Cleveland, it is not a surprise that they are the favorite for Game 3 according to Vegas. However, with how the Cavs looked in Game 2, and the highly contested nature of this series so far, the Cavs look like the value play for Game 3.
Here are 2 reasons why you should bet on the Cavs in Game 3 vs. the Knicks.
Courtesy of FanDuel, here are the Cavs-Knicks NBA odds
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are +2
This series is looking like it is going to go seven games. It would not be a surprise if that 17 point margin of victory by the Cavs in Game 2 turns out to be the largest margin of victory between these two teams. In general, the underdog play makes sense in Game 3 in a game between teams that look very evenly matched.
The Cavs are coming off of a game where they shot the lights out, headlined by a 32 point performance from point guard Darius Garland. Garland went 6/10 from the 3-point line, posting the signature playoff performance of his young career. Lost in the shuffle of his great performance was the fact that Donovan Mitchell only had 17 points. This broke a stretch of four straight 40 point outings to end the regular season, and then a 38 point performance in Game 1 by Mitchell.
Mitchell is going to return to an elite scoring form in Game 3, and this will dramatically benefit the Cavs +2 line. Mitchell being able to post a high scoring effort after Garland broke out bodes well for the Cavs chances of putting up a crooked number on the scoreboard. The +2 line is the smart play, given the high likelihood this will be a close game where the Cavs shouldn’t have trouble scoring the ball.
New York Knicks’ Julius Randle can’t figure out Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley has become the Knicks star Julius Randle’s kryptonite. After Game 2, Mobley has established himself as a mismatch on the defensive end for Randle. Through the regular season and two postseason games, Mobley has held Randle to 15/45 from the field as the primary defender. This checks out to a 33% shooting mark, a stellar defensive statistic for Mobley. Expect to see Mobley matched up with Randle much more in Game 3, pretty much every time the two are on the floor together.
Although Mobley has handled Randle, he hasn’t been on him as the primary defender every time. With the regular season and postseason combined, the Cavs and Knicks have played a total of six times. There have been plenty of more chances for Mobley to be matched up on Randle in the contests between the two, but circumstance has kept them from being consistently paired against each other. The Cavs are going to put a bigger emphasis on getting Mobley on Randle in Game 3, knowing the success he has had against him. This is a big reason the smarter bet is on the Cavs.
Going into Game 3, Game 1 and Game 2 have been polar opposite affairs. Game 1 saw the Knicks control the game and grind out a sluggish win, while the Cavs came out firing in Game 2 for a strong win from start to finish. The series now arrives in New York, and both teams will look to take a pivotal 2-1 lead. History says that a 2-1 lead is essential for the prospects of advancing, and the favorite Knicks will hope to back up the oddsmakers. However, the most valuable play is the Cavs at +2. Their ability to shut down Julius Randle with Evan Mobley, and a scoring resurgence from Donovan Mitchell, will please Cavs +2 bettors as the fourth quarter comes to a close in Game 3.
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