The NBA playoffs continue tonight, with three more games on the schedule. One of the games set to take place out of the Eastern Conference will be game two of the Knicks vs. Cavs series, in which the Knicks currently hold a 1-0 lead. We’ll preview the game before going over my best prop play for the action.
The four vs. five matchups in the first round of the playoffs are usually very entertaining series, and after one game between the Knicks and Cavs, it looks like that will be the case with this series. New York came away with a 101-97 win despite closing as five-point underdogs, as Jalen Brunson continued to look like the best free-agent signing the Knicks have had in quite some time.
Brunson finished the game with 27 points, but one of the biggest storylines in the game was Josh Hart, who also showed why he was an excellent acquisition by finishing with a double-double. However, New York’s offense does not deserve the credit for this win, mainly because they shot 28% from three. The Knicks' defense was truly impressive, as they stepped up and performed better on that end than the Cavaliers team that was first in the NBA in defensive efficiency rating during the regular season.
Cleveland still finished the game with a solid defensive rating of 106.3, but they also ended the game with a few appalling stat lines. One of those stat lines belonged to Darius Garland, who, despite finishing the game with 17 points, only had one assist but five turnovers. Garland averaged 7.7 assists during the regular season, so his lack of distributing hindered the Cleveland offense on Saturday.
One of the more interesting factors heading into tonight is how Cleveland will handle bench minutes. Both sides played a nine-man rotation, but Cleveland’s bench struggled to produce as two of the four bench players, Caris Lavert and Dean Wade, finished with a +/- of (-14).
For my prop play in this one, I’ll be targeting Quentin Grimes to go over his points + rebounds total of 13.5 currently priced at (-125). The young guard finished with five points and five rebounds in game one, but over his last ten games, he is still averaging 24.5 points + rebounds per game, and on the season, he averaged 14.4 per game. He may have struggled from deep in game one, going 1 for 4, but he is still a knockdown shooter who I think will benefit from Brunson seeing even more defensive attention.
Grimes is the perfect kick-out guy, and if Randle and Brunson start to get doubled, then I could certainly see a lot more open looks for the young guard. Cleveland was 22nd in opponent three-point percentage this season, so I don’t expect the Knicks three point numbers to be bad two straight games.
New York dominated the boards in game one, outrebounding the Cavs 51 to 38, and Grimes pulled down five himself. Over his last ten games, he is averaging 4.3 rebounds, and I think he can reap the benefits from the Cavs' lack of bench rebounding in this one to put him over his total.
Quentin Grimes Over 13.5 Points+Rebounds (-125)