Cavaliers simply outplayed by Knicks in game one 101-97      
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - For the first time since 2018 the Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) played and hosted an NBA playoff game on Saturday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs are the four seed in the Eastern Conference and took on the number five seeded New York Knicks (47-35) in game one of the best of seven series. During the regular season, the Knicks took the series from the Cavs 3-1.

The Cavs and Knicks have faced off three times in the NBA playoffs, all in the first round and New York has won all three series. The first time the two clubs met was after the 1977-78 season. Like this season the Cavs were the four seed, and the Knicks were the fifth seed, and the Knicks took the best of three series 2-0. The teams then met again after the 1994-95 season. In that series the Cavs were the third seed, and the Knicks had the three seed. The Knicks prevailed 3-1 in the five-game series. The last time the two clubs met in the post season was a year later in the 1995-96 playoffs. The Cavs were once again the four seed and the Knicks the five. The Knicks swept the series 3-0. Not much changed in game one as the Knicks led for most of the contest and took game one 101-97 going up 1-0 in the best of seven series stealing a game on the road.

The Knicks got out to an early 9-2 lead with 10:38 left on the clock on a three pointer by Julius Randle. The Cavs, who are the underdog in the series simply because they are not from New York responded scoring the next nine points capped off by two free throws by Isaac Okoro to give the Cavs an 11-9 lead with 7:52 left in the first quarter. With 6:02 left on the first quarter clock the Knicks regained the lead 15-13 on a layup by Mitchell Robinson. The Cavs responded and retook the lead 17-15 with 4:57 left on a fastbreak layup by Mitchell forcing Knicks head coach curmudgeon Tom Thibodeau to take a timeout. The Knicks responded with a mini 6-1 run over the next two minutes to take a 21-18 lead and Cavs boss JB Bickerstaff had seen enough and took a timeout with 2:57 left in the quarter. The final two minutes belonged to the Knicks. When the clock ran out the Knicks led 30-24 after 12 minutes. Randle led all scorers with eight points. Darius Garland and Mitchell paced the Cavs with five points each. The Cavs turned the ball over five times in the first quarter leading to 12 Knicks points. The Knicks outrebounded the Cavs by the smallest of margins 12-11. New York also had 9 fastbreak points while the Cavs managed only three. The Knicks bench also outscored Cleveland 5-2 in the first quarter.

The Knicks continued to build the lead to 12 points at 40-28 with 7:34 left in the second quarter. The Cavaliers cut the lead to 40-33 on a fastbreak layup by Mitchell with 6:55 left on the first half clock, still with a lot of work to be done. The Cavs cut the lead to 44-38 with 4:03 left on the second quarter clock when Mitchell drained a three his second of the first half to that point. The Knicks lead was down to five at 48-43 when Mitchell drained another three with 2:03 left in the first half, he now had 18 points, 13 of which came in the second quarter to that point. As the clock ran out on the second quarter the Knick lead was 50-45. Mitchell led all scorers with 18 points in the first 24 minutes. Randle paced the Knicks with 16 points. The Knicks outrebounded the Cavs 24-23 in the first half.

The Cavs cut the Knicks lead to 50-49 with 10:15 left in the third when Garland dropped in a layup and was fouled. He missed the free throw. To that point of the game the Cavs were 7 for 11 from the charity stripe. The Cavs tied the game 54-54 when who else? Mitchell hit a three with 8:16 left on the third quarter clock. Once again, the Cavs tied the game 58-58 with 6:09 left on a Garland jumper in the paint, New York responded with a three from RJ Barrett to take a 61-58 lead with 5:39 left in the third quarter. The Cavs had a chance to cut the lead to one point with 5:26 left and Mitchell at the line, but once again a missed free throw and a turnover by the Cavs the Knicks lead ballooned to 65-59. Cleveland cut the lead to 65-62 on three pointer by Cedi Osman with 4:17 left. The Knicks continued to be the aggressor and with 1:49 left in the third period the Knicks lead was back to double digits at 76-65. The Cavs defense seemingly had no answer for the Knicks offense led by Brunson who seemed free to do whatever he wanted to do as he had scored 18. The Cavs cut the lead to 78-70 with :33.2 left in the third when Osman hit one of two free throws. The Cavs were shooting a miserable 64% (11 of 17) from the free throw line through three quarters. The Knicks led 78-70 at the end of the period. Mitchell led all scorers with 24 through the first 36 minutes. Brunson led the Knicks with 18 points. The Knicks were killing the Cavs on the boards 39-31 in the game and outrebounded Cleveland 15-8 in the third quarter. The Cavs bench was also a no show through three quarters as they were outscored by New York 30-9. The Cavs usually win the battle in the paint, but not in this game through the quarters the Knicks led the Cavs in the paint 34-28. The Cavs also turned the ball over 12 times resulting in 23 New York points.

Things got worse in the first 1:37 of the fourth quarter as the Knicks lead once again grew to double digits at 82-72 with 10:23 left in the game. Bickerstaff had seen enough and called for a timeout. Earlier in the fourth quarter Randle was called for an offense foul as he elbowed Okoro in the face knocking him to the court. Okoro was slow to get up. The play was reviewed to see if it was a flagrant foul. The elbow was deemed “a basketball move” and play continued. Osman cut the Knicks lead to seven points at 84-77 with 6:55 remaining, but the Knicks responded with a three of their own by Randle with 6:34 left to extend their lead back to 10 points. The Cavs trimmed the Knicks lead to 89-84 with 5:10 left on a Mitchell three pointers, his fifth of the game, but immediately Brunson hit another three to give the Knicks an eight-point lead with 4:37 left at 92-84. Mitchell once again responded with another three cutting the lead to five and then after a Knicks timeout he stole the ball and the Knicks scoring. Then another turnover by New York and the Knicks lead was down to one at 92-91. With 2:45 left. Finally, with 2:12 left on the game clock the Cavs took their first lead since 7:38 of the first quarter at 93-92 when Jarrett Allen got the rebound and deposited in the basket. The Knicks regained the lead 95-93 when Josh Hart drained a long range three with 1:49 left in the game. Brunson then extended the Knicks lead to 97-93 with 1:15 left. The Cavs trimmed it to 97-95 with 1:05 left on the clock when Mitchell was fouled and hit both free throws. The Knicks got the ball and the Cavs played nice defense except for the fact after the Knicks missed their shot once again New York got the rebound and Brunson hit a floater extending the New York lead back to four at 99-95 with :35.4 left on the game clock. Allen then quickly cut the lead to two points at 99-97 with :31.8 left on the clock. Once again, the Cavs failed to get a rebound after they forced a Knicks missed shot. Randle came down with the ball and the Cavs were forced to foul with :04 left on the clock. Quentin Grimes hit both free throws icing the game and giving the Knicks a 101-97 win. Mitchell led all scorers with 38 points in a losing effort. Only three Cavs including Mitchell were in double figures Garland had 17 and Allen had 14 points along with 14 rebounds giving the Cavs man in the middle a double double. Mobley also was in double figures in rebound with 11, but only managed to score eight points. The second-year big man from center had a miserable night offensively shooting 31% (4 for 13) from the field and never got to the free throw line. Brunson led the Knicks with 27 points. The Knicks also had only three players in double figures scoring including Brunson along with Randel with tallied 19 points along with 10 boards. Josh Hart had 17 points for New York.

The Knicks completely dominated the Cavs in several categories in the four-point win. The boards were a big problem for the Cavs all night, especially down the stretch. New York outrebounded the Cavs 51-38 and 27-15 in the second half, getting key rebounds in the final minutes to secure the win.

The two teams will play game two of the series on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm at RMFH when the Cavs will try to get to break even. 
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​POSTED 04/15/2023 21:13
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