In other words, Tuesday’s game in Cleveland may be a rematch in name only. After that, the teams meet up a night later in New York.
But go ahead and call it another meaningless regular season game. Most healthy members of the Cavs are calling it something else.
“It’s a big game for us,” power forward Evan Mobley said. “Definitely want to go out there and really show our crowd and show our team we’re out here to fight and move forward and keep getting better and I feel like it’s going to be a good game.”
As for Okoro, there’s a good chance he’ll draw the assignment of defending Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson, one of the league’s most underrated weapons. It’s hard to be underrated in New York, but the low-key and always professional Brunson has found a way.
Okoro and the rest of the Cavs know and appreciate Brunson’s game.
So how should they try to contain him?
“Just be physical. By being physical you could wear your opponent out. First quarter, second quarter, by the fourth quarter they’re all worn out. They got dead legs,” Okoro said. “So just be physical from the start.”
Ah, yes. Physical. Some people will tell you the Cavs were missing that very trait in last year’s playoff series. They weren’t just defeated by the Knicks; they were bullied and broken.
Basically, there will still be a long way to go after the Cavs and Knicks square off for the next two straight nights — a very long way. But it’s never too early to try to send a message.