Cavaliers even series 1-1 with dominating 107-90 win over Knicks       
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Saturday night the Cleveland Cavaliers found out what playoff basketball was in game one of their first-round best of seven series with the New York Knicks. The Cavaliers entered the series as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and had home court advantage over the fifth seeded Knicks. The Knicks pounced with aggressive play and squeaked out a 101-97 win in game one despite the Cavs taking 93-92 lead with 2:12 left on the game clock. The Cavs tried to even the series on Tuesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs came out and showed the Knicks they were for real, and they could play physical too, taking control early and cruising to the 107-90 win and evening the best of seven series 1-1.

The Cavs took an early 4-2 lead when Darius Garland hit Jarrett Allen under the basket with 9:29 left in the first quarter. The Knicks quickly responded with a three by Jalen Brunson to take a 5-4 lead and then extend it to 10-4 at the 7:50 mark on three pointer by Julius Randle. In the first five minutes the Cavs were only 3 of 6 from the field for 33% while the Knicks were 4 for 8 for 50%. With 7:05 left the Knicks lead had ballooned to 12-4 when Quentin Grimes hit two free throws. The Cavs pulled to within 13-9 on a three pointer by Garland with 6:18 left in the first quarter. Then the New York lead was cut to one point at 13-12 with 5:42 left when Garland hit from deep again. After the Knicks extended the lead back to three the Cavs once again cut it to one point at 15-14 on two free throws by Garland with 4:47 left. The Cavs took their first lead of the game with 3:13 left on the clock in the first quarter when Caris LeVert hit a three on a nice pass from Mitchell giving the Cavs a 17-15 lead. 22 seconds later Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau had seen enough and took a timeout with 1:51 left in the first. The Cavs extended the lead to 19-15 with 2:51 left when Mitchell hit two free throws. But the Knicks responded and got a three from Obi Toppin to pull to within one and tied the game 19-19 on a jumper by Josh Hart. With the Knicks leading 22-19 the Cavs pulled to within two points at 22-20 with 1:31 left in the first when Garland hit one of two free throws after being fouled by Toppin, it was his first. Both Mitchell Robinson and Isaac Okoro got in early foul trouble, both had two personals early in the first quarter. Garland hit two more free throws to tie the game 22-22 and then LeVert hit a buzzer beater on an assist from Garland to put the Cavs on top 25-22 at the end of 12 minutes. Garland led all scorers with 11 first quarter points. Brunson paced the Knicks with eight points. Rebounds were even in the first quarter with each club having 10. The Cavs however had three offense rebounds to the Knicks two. Also, the Cavs bench that was woefully outscored in the first game outscored the Knicks 8-5 in the opening quarter.

The Cavs maintained the lead as the second quarter progressed. The Cavs took their biggest lead of the game with 8:26 left in the first half when Evan Mobley drove the lane giving the Cavs a 30-24 lead. New York was forced to take another timeout. With 7:21 left the Cavs lead grew to 33-24 when Garland hit his third three pointer of the first half. With 6:10 left on the clock the Cavs took their first double digit lead in the post season in five years when Garland hit his fourth three and put the Cavs up 38-26. New York once again retreated to the bench for a timeout. The Knicks cut the Cavs lead to 42-33 with 3:48 left in the first half when Randle hit a three pointers. Seconds later Randle picked up his second foul. Mobley then drove into the paint on the inbound pass and scored giving the Cavs a 44-33 lead with 3:13 left. With the Cavs up 44-35 and 2:42 left on the clock former Cavs Isaiah Hartenstein picked up his third personal foul sending Darius Garland to the line. But before Garland could shoot his two free throws Knick swingman Josh Hart said a magic word and was accessed a technical foul. Garland converted it and then hit both free throws giving the Cavs a 47-35 lead with 2:42 remaining. After the Knicks turned the ball over on the inbound the Cavs took advantage giving Cleveland a 50-35 on a three by LeVert with an assist from Garland with 2:31 left. The Cavs continued to play well taking it to the Knicks and building the lead to 52-35 on a fastbreak layup by Garland with 1:31 left. Danny Green who was signed late in the season by the Cavs put them up by 20 points at 57-37 when he drained a three from in front of the Cavs bench with :30 remaining in the first half. When the dust settled, and the first half ended Cleveland went to the locker room with a 59-39 lead. Garland led all scorers with 26 first half points. The only other Cavs player in double figures was LeVert with 11 points. New York also had two players in double figures. Brunson led the Knicks with 14 and Randle had 12. The Cavs shot 45% (19 of 42) in the first half while the Knicks struggled due to good Cavs defense and shot 37% (14 of 38). The Cavs shot 47% (8 of 17) from behind the three-point arch while the Knicks also struggled there shooting a miserable 25% (4 of 16). The Knicks also turned the ball over a whopping 14 times in the first half resulting in 27 Cavalier points. The Cavs also improved on the boards from game one as each team pulled down 15 boards. But the Cavs had six offensive boards while the Knicks managed five. Cleveland also had 14 assists in the first half while the Knick only had six. The Cavs were 13 of 15 from the free throw line for 87% while the Knicks shot 7 of 9 for 78%.

With 10:16 left in the third quarter Cleveland took 66-41 when Donovan Mitchell hit a three. The Knicks cut the lead to 66-45 with 8:21 left when Brunson hit Robinson under the basket and the big man put it in. With 6:19 left on the clock in the third quarter Garland was called for a personal foul while guarding Grimes. It was clear on replay that Garland never touched Grimes, but the Cavs chose not to review the call. The Knicks took a timeout and after Grimes went to the line and hit two of three cutting the Cleveland lead to 68-49. With 5:42 left in the third Mitchell was called for his third personal foul. After Green was called for his third personal where it looked as though he was fouled by Randle, Randle hit two free throws cutting the Cavs lead to 69-51 with 4:53 left in the third quarter. Green left the game and Mobley re-entered in his place. After the Knicks cut the lead to 16, Garland hit his fifth three of the game giving the Cavs a 72-53 lead with 4:18 left on the third quarter clock. The Knicks once again cut the Cavs lead to 16 at 74-58 with 2:40 left when Randle hit his third three of the night. The Cavs scored on their next two possessions, the second possession was a three, once again by Garland his sixth of the night giving Cleveland a 79-58 lead with 1:43 left forcing the Knicks to take a timeout. Garland had 32 points. Right after the timeout with 1:16 left on the clock the Cavs went up by 24 points 82-68 when Mitchell hit a three. When the clock ran out and 36 minutes had been played the Cavs lead was 82-60 and they were firmly in control of game two. Garland was leading everyone in scoring with 32 points. LeVert had 17 and Mitchell had 15 for Cleveland. Randle led the Knicks with 17. Brunson had 14 and RJ Barrett had 10. The Cavs outrebounded the Knicks 11-10 in the third quarter and had the edge in the game 32-30 through three. The Cavs bench was outscoring the Knicks bench through three 22-13. The Cavs who were embarrassed on the paint in game one were outscoring the Knicks in game two 28-26 through the first 36 minutes.

After a failed Knicks possession and a Cavs fastbreak with 11:15 left on the clock Cleveland held an 84-60 lead on a layup by LeVert. The Cavs took their biggest lead of the second half at 90-64 when LeVert hit two free throws with 9:15 left on the game clock. The Knicks could not cut into the Cavs lead and with 7:21 left and the Cavs up 94-68 the Knicks called a timeout attempted one last run bringing Brunson and Randle back into the game. The attempt was futile with 5:55 left on the clock the Cavs put the final nail in the Knicks game two coffin when Cedi Osman hit a three giving the Cavs a 99-70 lead. Even with the officiating being predictable (flagrant one foul on Allen was anything but) playing the Knicks the boys from New York were outclassed by the young Cavs as Cleveland coasted the final five minute securing the dominate 107-90 win.

Garland led everyone in scoring with 32 points. Three other Cavs were in double figures including LeVert who had 24, Mitchell with 17 and Mobley deposited 13 points. Mobley also had 13 points for his first postseason double double, the first of what should be many. Randle led the losing Knicks with 22 points. Brunson contributed 20 in the blow out loss. Two other Knicks Immanuel Quigley and Barrett were in double figures scoring wise with 11 and 14, respectively.

The Cavs dominated every statistical category in the game. The Cavs bench outscored the Knicks, the Cavs outscored the Knicks in the paint, the Cavs had 32 points off 18 Knicks turnover while the Knicks only scored 28 off 18 Cavs turnovers. The Cavs won the battle of the boards 43-36 and on the offensive board where the Knicks had 17 in game one, they managed only 13 on Tuesday night while the Cavs pulled down 32 defensive rebounds. The Cavs shot 49% (38 of 77) from the field while the Knicks struggled because of the stifling Cavs defense and shot a miserable 37% (29 of 79). The Cavs shot 42% (14 of 33) from behind the three-point arc, while the Knicks shot a putrid 24% (7 of 29) from long range.

Okoro who had two early fouls played only the first 2:45 of the game and never returned. Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff said after the game that it means nothing for the long-term plan. He said he plays the best group for the situation. He commented after the game that the crowd “was electric” and the team played “Cleveland Cavaliers basketball.” He also said that the team had talked the last couple of days that the team had to be better on the boards and it did show on Tuesday night. After the game Mitchell said that Garland played like the all-star, we all know he is.

The two clubs will play game three of the 1-1 series on Friday night at 8:30 pm at Madison Square Garden in New York. 
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​POSTED 04/18/2023 22:37
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Cavaliers point guard Darius Garland.                               Photo by Tommy Shirer