In the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the fourth-seeded Cavaliers take on the fifth-seeded Knicks in a matchup between teams from the Eastern Conference that have made significant strides in their play over the course of the past several seasons. Although neither club finished in the top three in the standings during the regular season, it is likely that the top seeds will want to avoid playing either of these teams at any stage during the postseason. Because this has the potential to be one of the opening-round series that is disputed the most closely, it is essential that we perform the research necessary to adequately prepare you to wager on the first-round matchup.

Donovan Mitchell’s first season with the Cavaliers has been nearly as successful as General Manager Mike Gansey could have hoped for when he pulled off the blockbuster trade to acquire the All-Star player. The addition of “Spida” to the lineup, together with Darius Garland and Caris LeVert, has resulted in the formation of a formidable perimeter-scoring trio. The Cavaliers ended the regular season with 51 victories, which is the most for the team since their 2016-17 run with LeBron James. Additionally, Cleveland finished with the sixth-best home record in the NBA. The Cavaliers are ranked first in the Association in both points allowed (106.9 ppg) and defensive rating (110.6), and this is largely due to the efforts of defensive twin towers Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. During the course of the season, just one team has a superior net rating, and only four teams have managed to keep a higher shooting %.

The Knicks ended this season with the most wins (47) since Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were playing for the Big Apple franchise. New York also has plenty of reasons to be pleased with their team’s accomplishments. The acquisition of Jalen Brunson through free agency the previous summer was extremely profitable for New York, as was the deal completed at the trade deadline to acquire Josh Hart, who was Brunson’s friend and college colleague at Villanova. A comeback season for All-Star Julius Randle has been an enormous boost as well, and the health of his ankle will be the focus of everyone’s attention between now and the beginning of the series this coming weekend. In the event that Randle is unable to play, there is a good chance that Sixth Man of the Year candidate Immanuel Quickley will step up his game.

The Knicks have the ability to deploy big-bodied inside presences such as Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and Isaiah Hartenstein in order to compete with Allen and Mobley. This gives the Knicks a very good chance of winning this matchup. Both teams made a significant impact in the Eastern Conference this year, posting a combined record of 66-38 versus Eastern Conference opponents and sweeping their respective season series against the Celtics.

Which of these tenacious and gifted Eastern Conference teams has what it takes to move on to the second round? Let’s talk about how the Cavaliers and Knicks stack up against one another in the odds, and then give our forecast and top picks for how we think this best-of-seven series might play out.

Knicks vs Cavaliers Betting Odds for Game 1

Here are the Knicks vs Cavaliers betting odds for the first game of this 2023 NBA playoffs series, brought to you by

  • New York Knicks: Point Spread +5.5 -110, Moneyline +180
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Point Spread -5.5 -110, Moneyline -220
  • Total: 214.5 Over/Under

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Knicks vs Cavaliers Picks, Predictions

The Cavaliers finished with a four-game advantage over the Knicks for the fourth seed, which ensured that they would have a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. And what a benefit it has been for J.B. Bickerstaff’s team to play at their familiar venue. At Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, Cleveland had a record of 31-10, went 24-16-1 against the spread (ATS) at home, and went 23-15-1 ATS as the home favorite.

Despite this, the Cavaliers concluded their away games with a record of 20-21 and 18-20-3 against the spread. This is a striking contrast to the Knicks, who finished the road portion of the season with a record of 24-17, good enough for fifth-best in the Association. Additionally, the team coached by Tom Thibodeau finished the season with a record of 26-14-1 against the spread (ATS) on the road, which was good for third-best in the league. The Knicks had a record of 17-11-1 against the spread when they were expected to lose on the road against another team. Since Josh Hart made his debut in the Big Apple on February 10, they have a straight-up record of 17-8 and an against-the-spread record of 7-3-1 as an underdog. Warning: putting too little stock in these Knicks could be a mistake.

The status of Julius Randle’s ankle could prove to be the deciding factor in this series. According to comments made by Thibodeau to the New York Post on Tuesday, his All-Star big man has been practicing in a restricted capacity and has been making solid improvement. The fans of the New York Knicks will be pleased to hear that. Fans have renewed hope that their leading scorer will be able to participate in the opening round series kickoff in Cleveland on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ESPN), just a few days after seeing him hobbling around in a walking boot.

Randle did not play for the Knicks in their game against the Cavaliers on March 31 in Cleveland; yet, his team easily defeated Bickerstaff’s squad by a score of 130-116 without him. Brunson scored 48 points and handed out nine assists for the Knicks, while six other teammates joined him in scoring in the double-digits. The Knicks swept the regular-season matchup against the Cavaliers, claiming victory in all three games played between the beginning of December and the end of March. During that time period, New York had a cumulative winning margin of 327-300 over the Cavaliers. That works out to a winning margin of nine points each game on average.

Despite this, Cleveland concluded the season with a record of 7 wins and 3 losses in their final 10 games, and they have one of the greatest defenses in the NBA. Evan Mobley, a second-year big, is a sleeper candidate for defensive player of the year, while Isaac Okoro, a small forward, is the finest perimeter defender that 60 percent of casual viewers don’t yet know about. We believe that the ‘Land will be well-prepared for a top-heavy Knicks club that has its All-Star player bruised up because of the fact that Bickerstaff is also low-key one heck of a coach.

Knicks vs Cavaliers Series Prediction: The Cavaliers (-200) will prevail over the Knicks in seven games.