Welcome back, Cleveland!
The fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) will host the fifth-seeded New York Knicks (47-35) in the most intriguing matchup of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. It gets underway in Cleveland Saturday (ESPN, 6 p.m.).
Game 2 will be Tuesday (TNT, 7:30) in Cleveland with the best-of-seven series heading back to New York for Game 3 April 21 (ABC, 8:30 p.m.).
Cleveland last appeared in the 2018 playoffs.
It also will be the first NBA playoff series since sports betting in Ohio launched back on Jan. 1.
The Cavaliers are 1-3 against the Knicks this season, dropping the last three games, including a 130-116 setback at home on March 31 in their last meeting. Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson had a career-high 48 points (18-for-32 from the floor) with seven three-pointers and nine assists.
Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell posted 42 points in the loss and it's setting up to be a showcase between two of the league's top young guards. Mitchell is averaging 31.8 points per game against the Knicks this season, along with 7.5 assists.
Mitchell made big news Jan. 2 when he set a Cavaliers record with 71 points in a win over the New York Knicks.
It was only the second day Ohio sports betting apps were up and running.
What’s at Stake in Series
Cleveland is coming off its first 50-win season since 2018 and is seeking its second NBA title since hometown hero LeBron James led them to glory in 2016. James led the Cavs to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances from 2015-18, all against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors won three of those matchups for the title.
For the Knicks, Brunson, signed as a free agent this offseason, and his newly-acquired former Villanova teammate Josh Hart, will be key components. A solid bench will be needed. Julius Randle has been hobbled by an ankle injury of late and his status is uncertain.
The Knicks will be making only their second appearance in the NBA Playoffs since the 2012-13 season when they lost to the Indiana Pacers, 4-2, in a best-of-seven series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Two years ago, they bowed out to the Atlanta Hawks, 4-1, in the first round.
New York also has the dubious distinction of being ne of five teams with the longest droughts without a NBA title currently.
Longest Drought Without an NBA Title
BetMGM Updated Futures
A look at BetMGM Ohio Sportsbook Thursday afternoon has Cleveland as a 5.5-point and -225 moneyline favorite over New York in Game 1. The Knicks are a +180 moneyline underdog, with the over/under points total at 214.5. You can find a BetMGM Ohio bonus code on this site.
With betting in the state in its infancy, here is a guide to betting futures in Ohio.
Surprisingly, the Cavaliers are a solid -200 to win the series, one that many think will go the duration.
The Cavs are +1600 to win the Eastern Conference and +4000 to win the NBA title.
Stay close to BetOhio.com for updates on the Cavaliers and other teams in the state, as well as for Ohio sportsbook promos.