After winning eight straight games, albeit against some of the lesser teams in the NBA, the New York Knicks returned to their more accustomed form during Sunday night's contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since their accustomed form was one of mediocrity, the outcome of the game was not a favorable one and the result was that the Knicks fell to the Cavaliers 106-100 in a callback to their previous defeats. All season, the Knicks have struggled to obtain, and hold, leads and were partial to waiting until the fourth quarter to allow the game to slip completely from their grasp so it was with little surprise that the Knicks employed their tried and true losing formula in their latest game.
Every now and then the Knicks will blow out an opponent, but their play this season has basically been a 70-game seminar on the fact that no lead is really safe in the hands of the beleaguered club. While a 15-point halftime lead against a team not even playing their best player might sound like one even the Knicks can easily hold onto, it is not and the Knicks are out to prove just how foolish you were to think you could trust them to be consistently efficient across four quarters, especially when their eight-game winning streak was just screaming out that they would eventually regress to the mean.
Still, it was an impressive feat that saw the Cavaliers battle back from their double-digit deficit when they belong to the same club as the New York Knicks, that of being a lottery-bound franchise. Yet, having the 23rd-ranked offense in the NBA, in terms of offensive rating, proved to be no impediment since the Cavaliers were playing an opponent that has rarely met an offense it could not improve by playing laughably bad defense.
Therefore, it only took the Cavaliers 16 minutes and 30 seconds of game time before they managed to tie the game at 90-90. From that point in the contest, all the Cavaliers had to do was wait for the Knicks to do what the Knicks do best (i.e., fail to get clutch defensive stops or score on crucial offensive possessions) and then take advantage. After the Cavaliers tied the game, the Knicks only held a lead for 18 seconds of the final 7:29, proving unable to stop the Cavaliers from scoring and answering the Cavaliers' points with made baskets of their own. The Cavaliers made 6 of 8 from the field along with two free throws during that span while the Knicks shot just 1 of 12 from the field; the Knicks also added six free throws, but they proved to be inconsequential.
What was a lot less inconsequential is that the Knicks' latest defeat kept them from gaining on the Atlanta Hawks in the race for the last Eastern Conference playoff seed. How valuable the eighth seed would even be for a team with the multitude of problems the Knicks possess is debatable, since it would inevitably result in a first-round exit from the playoffs, but certainly the players would like something to show for their season beyond a lottery selection. Sunday's loss put that goal of reaching the postseason even more out of reach than it already was for the Knicks.