The Cavaliers have shocked the New York Knicks twice this season in Cleveland, including an impressive win just a week ago in the road debut of new Knicks Carmelo Anthony(notes) and Chauncey Billups(notes).
Both teams could look considerably different when they meet Friday at Madison Square Garden.
Billups is doubtful and Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison(notes) - who helped spearhead last week’s victory - is out, but the Cavaliers will likely have Baron Davis(notes) on the floor for the first time as they look for an 11th consecutive win against the Knicks.
Given the state of the two franchises over the past few seasons, it wasn’t that surprising Cleveland came into 2010-11 with an eight-game winning streak versus New York (31-28).
What is surprising is that it’s continued. The Cavaliers (11-49) picked up their lone victory in a 37-game stretch by beating the Knicks 109-102 in overtime Dec. 18, then stunned them again last Friday with a 115-109 win despite Amare Stoudemire(notes), Anthony and Billups combining for 84 points.
New York bounced back by winning twice in a stretch of three games in four days. After splitting games at Miami and Orlando - Billups bruised his quadriceps in a loss to the Magic - the Knicks played without their new point guard Wednesday against New Orleans, but shot 54.5 percent in a 107-88 victory.
“When you have players like myself and Carmelo who demand so much attention, the game seems to open up for guys like (Douglas), so he took advantage of it,” said Stoudemire, who also finished with 24.
Douglas has averaged just 4.5 points and shot 21.1 percent in the two losses to Cleveland, but New York might need him to step up again Friday. Billups sat out Thursday’s practice and is doubtful to face the Cavaliers.
Two days after Jamison’s 28 points and 13 rebounds sparked the victory over the Knicks, Cleveland’s leading scorer broke his left pinky. He likely won’t play again this season.
The Cavaliers had a particularly difficult task in their first game without Jamison. They shot 39.6 percent - their worst effort since late January - in a 109-99 loss Wednesday to league-best San Antonio.
“I know every day that I come in, I’m going to work hard and I know my teammates are doing the same,” Samuels said. “That’s what I’m going to keep doing, nothing is going to change.”
“(I’m excited) to get out here and start working with these young guys, Davis said. “It’ll be good to get out there in a game situation and just see what we can all do together.”
Davis had 16 points and a season-high 16 assists as the Clippers beat the Knicks 116-108 at MSG on Feb. 9.