Knicks Close Out Cavs in Game 5, Win First Playoff Series Since ...
The New York Knicks have won their first playoff series in a decade, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the opening round of the 2023 NBA playoffs.
In an all-hands-on-deck team-wide display, the New York Knicks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 106-95 in Game 5 of their first-round series, punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in a gentleman’s sweep.
A massive question hung over the Knicks’ heads entering the season: Did they make the right move in trusting their roster by walking away from the table and not trading for Donovan Mitchell? More than seven months later, they officially got their answer. Wednesday night was both confirmation and a big step forward for the Knicks, who won their first playoff series since 2013.
Cleveland tried to string together one last rally to salvage the series, erasing an 18-point lead and trimming the deficit down to as low as six points with a fourth-quarter flurry, but the Knicks avoided the scare and continued to push forward.
They pulled away to solidify the wire-to-wire win by dominating the boards, with Mitchell Robinson getting key second-chance points late and others cashing in from the free-throw line.
New York dominated the paint and the glass on both ends of the court, outscoring the Cavaliers inside, 44-34. The squad also owned the rebounding margin, securing 48 rebounds (17 offensive) compared to Cleveland’s 30 total rebounds.
After getting high-energy wins at Madison Square Garden in Games 3 and 4, the Knicks set the tone early as the action returned to Cleveland.
Jalen Brunson didn’t miss a single shot in the first quarter, as the Knicks took a 33-26 lead after the first frame. RJ Barrett also continued his red-hot play and dominant series, as New York kept the pressure up. Julius Randle also heated up in the second quarter, after a slow start. Unfortunately for Randle, he sprained his left ankle once again late in the second quarter and didn’t return.
That didn’t stop the Knicks from taking a 61-51 halftime lead. After the break, the Knicks never relented behind a beautiful team-wide display in the series-clinching win.
Obi Toppin got the Knicks going early in the second half, providing big minutes and baskets as Randle changed to street clothes. He seized the opportunity and scored all 12 of his points in the third quarter, even making each of the Knicks’ last three baskets of the quarter.
Immanuel Quickley provided another massive spark off the bench on both ends of the court and even drew some charges. Josh Hart didn’t score much but helped Robinson and the rest of the Knicks dominate on the glass. He continues to give the Knicks a high return on their investment after getting acquired in a midseason trade. His high-energy play and defense have been a massive boost.
Darius Garland, who spearheaded the late comeback attempt, eventually fouled out. Donovan Mitchell had an improved showing after being kept quiet in Game 4 but it wasn’t nearly enough for the Cavaliers to salvage the series.
Brunson led the Knicks with 23 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals on 8-22 shooting. Barrett had 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, with four boards and four assists and a game-high plus-minus rating of +21. Robinson had a crucial 13-point, 18-rebound double-double, with two steals and three blocks. A whopping 11 of his 18 rebounds came on the offensive glass.
Randle had 13 points, four rebounds and six assists, before being sidelined for the rest of the game due to injury. Toppin had 12 points off the bench on 5-of-10 shooting. Quickley also provided a spark, finishing with 19 points.
For Cleveland, Mitchell finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists dna two steals. Garland had 21 points and four assists and Caris LeVert chipped in 17 points. Isaac Okoro led the Cavalier bench with 10 points, two assists and two steals.
The Knicks will await the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat in the next round. The Heat had a 3-1 lead entering Wednesday. Top-seeded Milwaukee swept the Knicks in all three meetings this season, while the Knicks topped the Heat in the regular season, winning three of four games.
»Read: RJ Barrett Cooks in Madison Square Garden, Puts Cavs on the Ropes
»Read: Obi Toppin’s Impact this Postseason and Beyond
»Read: Isaiah Hartenstein’s Redemption Arc is Complete