New York Knicks have helped build a title contender


As expected on Sunday afternoon, the Cleveland Cavaliers came into Madison Square Garden and dismantled the New York Knicks. The Cavaliers handled the Knicks rather easily with a 101-83 victory, as it was former Knicks J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert helping lead the Cavaliers to win.

The Cavaliers’ Big 3 of LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving all had easy afternoon, as they all played less than 30 minutes. All three played well in less minutes than normal, as James had 18 points, seven assists, and seven rebounds. Irving chipped in with 18 points, and Love had the best game of the three with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

What really had to have stung the Knicks and their fans was the strong games from Smith and Shumpert. Since the Cavaliers have acquired the two, they have been on a roll, and both Smith and Shumpert have been playing good winning basketball.

In 21 games with the Cavaliers, Smith is averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.7 SPG. Since the trade, Smith seems to have a new found focus, and that is paying dividends for him on the court, as he’s told reporters.

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“I think this is the best situation for me, ’cause there’s nothing but basketball. There’s nothing you expect but basketball. There’s nothing, there’s no going out, there’s no late nights. There’s video games, basketball and basketball. So it’s a great thing, ’cause I go back to where I came from. When I grew up, I never, I wasn’t allowed to go out. I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament, and all that stuff. For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball. And then when I got in the situation where I was at an early age, it was more, alright, let me see what this life is about, as opposed to just keep going. So now, I get the chance to get back to my roots….

I always made myself better by staying in the gym. When you replace that with stuff off the court, then you’re taking away from what made you who you are, or what got you to a certain point. It was kind of pulling me down in a sense, of not getting enough rest, not doing things you’re supposed to be doing, things you’re used to doing. So when you start missing those shots you’re supposed to make, especially wide-open shots, it was like, alright, what’s going on, what’s going on? Instead of looking at what it is, you’re reverting to that even more, instead of going back to the basics. So I think that’s the greatest part about being here.”

Even though Smith is getting much of the attention for playing so well in Cleveland, Shumpert has been extremely efficient in his 13 games. With the Cavaliers, Shumpert is averaging 7.5 PPG off the bench, but the stats that are eye-popping are his shooting percentages. From three-point range in Cleveland he is shooting 45.5%, and from the field he is shooting 50.7%. Shumpert always brings it on the defensive end of the court, but the way he’s shooting the ball is really something to keep an eye on, as he maybe becoming the player Knicks fans hoped he would.

Against the Knicks on Sunday they both continued their great play, as Smith scored 17 points on 7-11 shooting with four assists. Shumpert off the bench scored four points with seven assists, and five rebounds.

As many players have in MSG this season against the Knicks, Smith and Shumpert had a highlight play. Shumpert would throw an alley-oop to Smith who finished with a reverse dunk, which put the Cavaliers up by 30 at the time.

“It felt great,’’ Smith said. “It felt like the first time I actually made a shot [as a Knick]. You couldn’t have written it any better.’’

“Honestly that wasn’t the play,’’ Shumpert said. “They kind of cheated and cut him off, so he went backdoor. It’s just playing basketball. It was fun though.’’

That may not have been the play for the Cavaliers, but it certainly impressed their new teammates.

The Cavaliers are moving up in the standings at a rapid pace, and although a game against the Knicks is no indication; the Cavaliers look to be title contenders since the additions of Smith and Shumpert.

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