It's been a roller-coaster ride of a season for the Knicks filled with lengthy winning and losing streaks, but they seem to have things turned around since interim head coach Mike Woodson took over for Mike D'Antoni, as the Knicks have gone 15-5 under Woodson's watch, playing their best basketball of the season in the process.
It's also been a season filled with injuries for New York as the Knicks have suffered more man games lost this season to their key player then any team should have to deal with.
They could be getting good news on that front though as forward Amar'e Stoudemire could be set to return to the lineup after missing the past 12 games with an injured back.
All eyes will be on how Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony mesh with each other, as they've had their problems in the past. With Stoudemire out of the lineup and Anthony moving to the 4, the Syracuse product is playing at an MVP level, averaging 33.2 points per game.
If Stoudemire is ready to go, Anthony will switch back to the 3 and it will be interesting to see if he has the same success.
For the Cavs, they can't wait for the season to end as they've won only four of their past 22 games, but did welcome rookie point guard Kyrie Irving back to the lineup on Wednesday, after missing the past nine games with a shoulder injury.
With less than a week remaining in the regular season, here's everything you need to know about this Eastern Conference battle.
When: Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland
Watch: MSG, Fox Sports Ohio
Live Stream: NBA League Pass
Betting Line: No Line
Knicks Key Injuries
Out: Jeremy Lin (knee)
Cavs Key Injuries
What They're Saying
ESPN's Ian Begley takes a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for how the Stoudemire-Anthony duo will work for New York down the stretch.
He believes the best-case scenario is that the Knicks regain the early momentum they had when they went 6-1 under Woodson with a healthy Stoudemire, Lin and Anthony all performing well.
Stoudemire regains the momentum that he'd built up before he got hurt -- he averaged 18 points on 57 percent shooting in the five games before his injury.
And Anthony still has space to operate in the mid-post, where he has thrived, while Stoudemire finds enough opportunities around the rim to remain effective and efficient.
In Begley's worst-case scenario, he sees the pairing having their struggles like they had all season until Woodson took over.
Anthony shot 39 percent when sharing the floor with Stoudemire. With Stoudemire on the bench, that number increased to 49 percent. Anthony scored just 20 points per 36 minutes with Stoudemire on the floor. He's averaged 27 points when Stoudemire's on the bench.
Last season, when both guys were healthy, Anthony scored 9.6 fewer points per 36 minutes with Stoudemire on the floor. Stoudemire scored 10.8 fewer points when Anthony was on the floor.
Most Important Player to Watch: Amar'e Stoudemire
It's simple, Stoudemire needs to fit in. Anthony and the Knicks are on a roll without him and it's important that they ride Melo's hot streak into the playoffs.
Before the injury, Stoudemire had some of his explosiveness back for the first time all season. To make a playoff run, New York needs Stoudemire's production, but they have to find a way to make things work between their two superstars.
Key Matchup: Kyrie Irving vs. Iman Shumpert
Woodson has turned to the rookie Shumpert as his defensive stopper and will certainly draw the assignment of trying to shut down Irving.
They're two of the top rookies in NBA and if he limits Irving's effectiveness, the Knicks will have a big edge. In his first game back from injury Wednesday night, Irving played only 20 minutes, scoring nine points and dishing out four assists.
Expect Shumpert to pressure Irving early and often.
Knicks 103, Cavs 90
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