Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Randle Continues to Underwhelm

Julius Randle's been way off in Round 1 against the Cavaliers, and everything from this matchup, to his health, to the Knicks' lineup patterns are pushing our NBA picks to fade him in Game 5.

Apr 26, 2023 • 16:01 ET • 4 min read
Julius Randle NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

According to some statistical projections, the Cleveland Cavaliers should have been considered legitimate title contenders this season. Instead, they find themselves playing for their playoff lives in Game 5 of their first-round series against the New York Knicks on Wednesday, April 26. The Knicks have Cleveland on their heels, but that doesn’t mean the series is over. 

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland remain one of the most potent backcourts in the NBA, and with the action returning to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, New York will have to play nearly perfect basketball to close out the series.

Our NBA picks and predictions for Game 5 of Knicks vs. Cavaliers zero in on the ongoing struggles of Julius Randle, and why we think they’re likely to continue.

Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 best odds

Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 picks and predictions

Despite being the lower seed, the New York Knicks have largely dominated the Cleveland Cavaliers through four games of their first-round series. Critically, their best guard, Jalen Brunson, has outplayed Donovan Mitchell, considered by most to be the best player in the series. The Knicks' bigs of Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein have also crushed the Cavaliers' star tandem of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, something few would have predicted. 

But the Knicks winning all these key matchups and going up three games to one with a chance to closeout on Wednesday night has largely overshadowed how underwhelming the play of Julius Randle has been. Randle has a good shot of making an All-NBA team this season, having averaged 25.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on 58.1% true shooting. He also played in the first 77 straight games of the season before suffering a nasty ankle sprain just weeks before the playoffs, and his status was up in the air until tip-off of Game 1.

He came out firing in the first half of Game 1, but outside of that first half Randle’s results have been miserable. Julius is averaging just 14.8 points on 32.3% from the field and 25.8% from deep. He hasn’t found a rhythm at any point in the series, and his play was so poor in Game 4 (he finished with seven points on 3-10 from the floor) that he was benched in favor of Obi Toppin for the entire fourth quarter as the Knicks sealed the win.

There are a number of reasons to believe that Randle’s slide is going to continue into Game 5, which is why I’m a fan of taking the Under on his 21.5 points prop for Wednesday.

The first and most serious problem is Randle’s matchup. While the Cavaliers bigs have been routinely outplayed by the Knicks as a team (and by Robinson in particular) Mobley deserves serious credit for shutting Randle out of this series. Mobley is a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year for good reason, and while he can sometimes be pushed around for rebounds by stronger players, his combination of length, strength, and anticipation has made him the perfect foil for Randle. 

Randle has simply had zero success trying to post up or even dribbling in Mobley’s vicinity, and Mobley has also done a good job contesting Randle’s occasional attempt from behind the arc. While the two-big lineups haven’t worked to stop the Knicks' offense overall, they’ve made Randle’s path to productive and efficient scoring very difficult.

There is also the distinct possibility that Randle’s injured ankle is worse than has been publicly let on, or perhaps has been aggravated at some point during the series. Randle looked surprisingly spry during his Game 1 debut but has looked athletically worse in each appearance since then.

The balance on his jumper looks off, which could be due to simple rust, but could also be due to pain or discomfort. In the Game 4 post-game press conference, Tom Thibodeau stated that most players who were in Randle’s position would probably not even be playing, lending credence to the possibility that Randle is far from 100%.

Lastly, the way Game 4 ended opens the possibility that Randle sees his minutes cut again in favor of Toppin. Obi performed well with the Knicks starters, adding much-needed offensive rebounding, shooting, and pace that the Knicks have not been able to get out of this version of Randle. They could even opt for a look with Josh Hart or RJ Barrett playing the power forward position, all lineups Thibs has experimented with at one point or another this season.

Randle’s in a bad matchup, potentially playing hurt, and the Knicks coaching staff has demonstrated they’re willing to go with other options in order to win if Julius doesn’t have it going. For all those reasons this is my favorite bet on the board for Game 5.

My best bet: Julius Randle Under 21.5 points (-111)

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Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 spread analysis

The Cavaliers are 5.5-point favorites for Game 5. While they ultimately lost both games in Madison Square Garden, they had opportunities in the second half of both to come away with a win. The Cavaliers also found ways to exploit Randle’s dismal effort in pick-and-roll defense in Game 4, and if his effort continues to flag on that end, the Cavaliers could jump out to an early lead in this one and not look back. 

Cleveland’s players were also clearly rattled playing in the Garden against perhaps the most raucous crowd in the Association. Getting back in front of their own fans, in their arena, and in their comfort zone could help resolve the so-far fatal problem of not having a fifth player they can consistently trust on offense. If Isaac Okoro can hit his first couple of shots from the corner, it would allow them to keep him in the game to guard Brunson and would scuttle a lot of what the Knicks are doing defensively.

But that’s a massive if. The Knicks are underdogs here less because of what has been shown on the court and more due to historical precedent. It’s difficult to close out a series favorite on the road, but the Knicks have been flat-out better than the Cavaliers in head-to-head matchups all season long. Not only are the Knicks up 3-1 in this series, they also won the regular season series 3-1 (with Cleveland’s lone win featuring 3-point shooting heroics from the now-departed Kevin Love).

Cleveland will be the desperate team, and it’s at home, so it should have the edge. But I’m not sure that edge is worth 5.5 points. Having seen the way the Knicks have performed under pressure so far, I’m not confident enough in the Cavs to consider betting on them at this number.

Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 Over/Under analysis

If this series was the only basketball you watched this season, devoid of all other context, you would have no idea that the NBA is in the midst of a league-wide offensive explosion. There has not been a single game in this series where both teams have eclipsed 100 points, which is a nearly impossible feat in the modern NBA. The Knicks and Cavaliers together have five games in this series where a team has scored less than 100 points, which has happened just 10 times in total across all seven other playoff series combined. 

While some offensive foibles are a factor, the key is that both teams have been locked in on each other's offensive weak points since the beginning of the series. The Knicks continue to force anyone not named Darius Garland or Mitchell to beat them, while the Cavs have flustered New York’s traditional one-five pick-and-roll and are also blitzing Brunson liberally. 

The Under has cashed in all four games in the series, even as the totals have been in complete freefall to where it sits for Game 5 at 202.5. While playoff series trend toward the Under the longer they continue, this number is so low I’m hesitant to bet it because there is no margin for error. Even if only one team has a normal shooting performance, they could easily blow past this number.

Knicks vs Cavaliers betting trend to know

Under is 4-0 in Knicks’ last four overall. Find more NBA betting trends for Knicks vs. Cavaliers.

Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 game info

Location: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, OH
Date: Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN

Knicks vs Cavaliers Game 5 key injuries

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