Cavaliers eliminated by Knicks in five games 4-1 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, it was put up or shut up time for the young Cleveland Cavaliers who were basically bullied by the more aggressive veteran New York Knicks in three of the first four games of their best of seven series. The Cavs trailed 3-1 in the series entering the game and had their back firmly against the wall. What was apparent on Wednesday night, just like in the other three games the Knicks won in the series and the three games in the regular season was they were tougher. The Cavs sent the Knicks home with a 106-95 win advancing to the second round.

The knicks got out to a quick 4-0 lead but after a couple rough possessions the Cavs responded and tied the game 4-4 on an Evan Mobley jumper in the paint with 9:31 left in the first quarter. After the two teams traded three and were tied at 7-7, the Knicks took the lead 9-7 on a dunk by Mitchell Robinson with 8:24 left in the first period. Robinson then hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to 10-7 in favor of New York with 7:44 left in the first. The Cavs tied the game 10-10 when Caris LeVert hit a long three with 7:04 left on the first quarter clock. With the Knicks leading 12-10 Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff felt it was a good time for the game’s first timeout. After some more suspect NBA officiating, which has been a constant theme throughout the series, which is not a surprise considering the Cavs opponent the Knicks extended their lead to 21-14 with 4:15 left in the first quarter. With 2:47 left the Cavs were flailing miserably and the Knicks were up 27-16 as the Cavs lack of fight and the officials apparent love of the Knicks was a brutal combination. As the first quarter clock ran out the Knicks Josh Hart blatantly ran into Donovan Mitchell when he was shooting a three and no foul was called. The period ended with the Knicks leading 33-26. Brunson, who had free reign to do whatever he wanted and would not get any fouls, led all scorers with 12 points. Mitchell and LeVert led the Cavs with six points apiece. Isaac Okoro who has unjustly heard the wrath of Cavs fans and media critics all season had five points and one board. Both teams shot well, the Cavs shot 53% and the Knicks shot 52%. But once again the Knicks won the battle of the boards in the first 12 minutes 13-6 including six offensive boards.

Things got worse in the early minutes as the second quarter began as the Cavs who talked a lot at practice the last two days seemed like they had no intention of backing up the talk as the Knicks extended their lead to 40-29 with 9:48 left on a layup by RJ Barrett. Proof of the Cavs lack of effort with 6:54 left in the first half was the glaring stats in which the Knicks had outscored the Cavs 12-0 in second chance points the Cavs trailed 45-33 at that point of the contest. The Cavs pulled to within 11 points at 47-36 when once again Okoro hit a three, his second of the game bringing his total to 10 points. Cleveland cut the New York lead to 50-39 when LeVert was fouled (much to blatant for even the NBA officials to ignore) and he hit one of two with 4:41 left on the clock. With 2:16 left on the second quarter clock the Cavs were cooked, roasted, grilled, nuked. Those terms might be too kind for a group who played well below their talent level and were pushed around by the Knicks in the first four games and were getting pushed around again in game five. Julius Randle left the game injured with 1:15 left in the first half with the Knicks leading 59-49. As the buzzer ran out in the first half the Cavs were on life support trailing 61-51. Brunson led all scorers in the first half with 17 points. Including Brunson, the Knicks had four players in double figures. LeVert led the Cavs with 12 points in the first 24 minutes. The Knicks continued to dominate the boards outrebounding the Cavs 22-14 in the first half. The Knicks had eight offensive rebounds while the Cavs managed only three leading to the Knicks outscoring Cleveland on second chance points 14-3. The Cavs bench did outscore the Knicks bench 16-11 in the first half which was about the only first half positive for Cleveland.

Things continued to get worse for the Cavs as the seconds ticked away on the most promising season in years. With 7:08 left in the third quarter the Knicks lead was at 16 points at 74-58 and Bickerstaff decided it was time to bring in Lamar Stevens. This too little too late strategy was the Cavs’ last chance to get back in the game. With Stevens in the game the Cavs defense immediately tightened up and the Cavs pulled to within 74-65 with 5:21 left in the third. The Cavs then turned the ball over on multiple possessions and Garland was called for a “New York Style” offensive foul and the Knicks went on a 7-0 run to regain their 16 point advantage at 81-65 with 4:05 left in the third period. With :34.1 left in the third the Cavs cut the Knicks lead to 85-75 when Mitchell hit two free throws. But just like the entire series the Knicks responded quickly when Brunson drove the floor and increased the Knicks lead to 87-75 with :21.9 left on the clock with a layup. The score remained the same as time ran out in the third. Brunson led all scorers with 21 and Mitchell led the Cavs with 19. Once again, the Knicks outrebounded the Cavs in the quarter 12-10 to increase their game edge on the boards to 34-24. The Knicks were also running the floor better outscoring the Cavs 18-6 on fast breaks.

With 9:40 left in the game the Cavs cut the Knick lead to eight points at 88-80 when Garland hit a three from the top of the arc with the shot clock nearing zero. With 8:10 left on the clock the Knicks lead was down to six at 90-84 on a Garland jumper and the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse that had been quiet most of the night was energized. But the Knicks responded extending the lead back to 10 with 7:27 left when Immanuel Quigley hit two free throws giving the Knicks a 94-84 advantage. Then after a scramble for the ball under the Knicks basket a jump ball was called, the Knicks recovered the jump and Robinson slammed the ball home giving the Knicks a 96-84 lead with 6:16 left and the Cavs season slipping away. The Cavs brief run with about eight minutes left in the game was their last gasp for the 2022-23 season as the Knicks closed out the game 106-95 and the series 4-1 sending the Cavs home for the summer.
One final stat from game five sums up the series. The Knicks outscored the Cavs 20-3 in second chance points.

With the Cavs the season is over and now they wait for the schedule maker to tell them the date for the opener of the 2023-24 season. One thing is certain the roster will look different when the regular season opens and there could be other changes when the season begins in October.. 
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​POSTED 04/26/2023 21:56
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Lake County Sentinel
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Cavaliers .                               Photo by Tommy Shirer