Knicks at Cavaliers (8pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The New York Knicks’ latest rebuilding is off to a promising start, as their two losses have come against the Hawks and Spurs, while they’ve taken care of business against lesser lights Wizards and Bucks. Carmelo Anthony’s knee seems to be in fine form eight months after surgery, and his ego is definitely in fighting trim, as he responded to an accusation from the Wizards’ Jared Dudley of being overrated by dropping 37 points on the Wiz in a 117-110 victory. ‘Melo’s averaging 23 points, and 7 rebounds, and continues to dispense invaluable lifestyle advice, there’s no reason to think that’ll soon change.
Meanwhile, the Knicks’ Latvian beanpole, Kristaps Porzingis, is leading the team in rebounds (8.3) and steals (1.8) despite averaging just 23.8 minutes. Better still, future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan declared Porzingis “impressive” after watching him stuff home a thunderous putback over LaMarcus Aldridge in a 94-84 Spurs victory.
After a season-opening loss to the Bulls, the Cleveland Cavaliers have run the table and sit at 3-1, despite the continued absence of point guard Kyrie Irving, who’s still nursing a bum knee and has no timetable for his return.
All of Kevin Love’s rehab work looks to be paying dividends, as he’s averaging 18.5 points and 10.8 boards. LeBron James on Monday became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points, besting Kobe Bryant by 409 days. LeBron appears to be dialing back his workload in an effort to stay fresh for the season-long grind, as he continues to reduce his minutes, and has fewer touches than Matthew Dellavedova and only one more than Love.
Clippers at Warriors (10:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
After getting bounced from the conference semis by the Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers spent much of the off-season trash-talking the Golden State Warriors and their title march, and the Warriors, for their part, did not care for it. This game will be the first real test for each of these title contenders, served up with a side of animosity.
Both teams are 4-0, but the Warriors have to be considered the class of the NBA. Fresh off a 50-point dismantling of Grizzlies, they lead the league in scoring (119 ppg) and win differential (25 ppg–25! To put that into perspective, the Jazz are second at 14.7), 3-pointers made, field goal percentage, and assists, and are third in rebounds. They’re getting it done on the other end, too, allowing the third-lowest field goal percentage (.380) and forcing the sixth-most turnovers. Warriors’ guard and reigning MVP Steph Curry is playing like a man determined to prove his title and accolades are not flukes, averaging 37 points, 6.3 assists and 5 rebounds.
Still, the Clips are nothing to sneeze at. Power forward Blake Griffin is killing it through the Clips’ first 4 games, averaging 29.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. On the other end of the floor, DeAndre Jordan has been even more of a beast than usual, pulling down 11.8 defensive rebounds and blocking 4.5 shots per game. Star guard Chris Paul has struggled to find his shot and get into the rhythm of things, as his points, assists and rebounds are all down and his turnovers are up, but he’s got his yo-yo dribble working and should be fine. Unless Curry does this to him again…