In his first appearance in the playoffs, Darius Garland could not change what had already happened.
On Tuesday night, Garland took precautions to prevent himself from doing it again.
Garland scored 26 of his game-high 32 points in the first half, helping the Cavaliers beat the Knicks 107-90 to square their series against New York in the Eastern Conference playoffs at one game each. Garland’s aggressive play from the opening tip helped set the tone for the rest of the game.
“That’s the All-Star we know, and it was wonderful to see,” said Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, one of several people who pushed Garland to be more forceful. “That’s the All-Star we know,” Mitchell said. “He exited the room with a goal in mind. There was just a little change in how he looked at you.”
Garland had 15 points during the second period when Cleveland clamped down defensively and dominated New York. As a result, the Cavaliers forced nine turnovers on their route to building a 20-point advantage before halftime. In the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers increased their advantage to 29 points.
Garland had been berating himself for his performance in Game 1 for the previous two days. In that game, he had ended with one assist in 43 minutes and didn’t try a shot at all in the fourth quarter. During the filming sessions, his colleagues called attention to times when he should have been shooting. The same message was repeated to him no matter where he went.
He stated, “Everyone in the building encouraged me to go be aggressive, go shoot the ball.” “I studied the tape from the first game, and after seeing some situations where I can go grab mine and be aggressive, I just wanted to do that today,” he said. “I watched the footage from the first game.”
The blowout victory for Cleveland finished with a flagrant foul, and some people were left wondering why New York’s players were still on the court.
Julius Randle tried to get a breakaway dunk when he was fouled by Jarrett Allen, who plays center for the Cavaliers. This caused New York’s All-Star forward to fall awkwardly out of bounds and extend the Knicks’ deficit to 23 points. The touch made Randle angry, and he confronted several members of the Cavaliers team as well as their coach, J.B. Bickerstaff.
Randle said, “I felt it was a little bit needless.” “I know that during the playoffs, you do not throw in the towel on plays. In most cases, though, you will move laterally across the body. Not like that.”
Bickerstaff believed that the call for Allen’s egregious foul was unjustified; it was given.
“They continued to put up a strong effort. They continued sprinting in the passing lanes after being warned. He questioned the logic behind why one team would go all out while the other did not. There was nothing unsavory about the play at all. That was not a serious infraction of the rules. He challenged a shot that was made near the rim. It’s as easy as that.”
Mitchell added 17 points and a career playoff-best 13 assists for the Cavaliers, who were much more physical than in Game 1 and went toe to toe with the Knicks. Caris LeVert scored 24 points off the bench for the Cavaliers.
Jalen Brunson contributed 20 points to New York’s total, while Randle led the team in scoring with 22 points. New York secured the necessary split at the raucous Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to prepare for Friday night’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.
“You are aware of what to anticipate,” Randle told me. “We are in the Garden. It’s the Garden,” you say.
In the first game of the series, the Cavaliers could match the level of aggressiveness shown by the Knicks and come out on top, winning most of the 50/50 balls. And as if dealing with Cleveland’s improved toughness wasn’t enough of a test for the Knicks, they began arguing.
On one play in the second quarter of the game, as the Cavaliers were starting to draw away from the competition, Randle pivoted to sprint up the court and accidentally slapped Brunson in the face, prompting his fellow teammate to cringe in pain.
Garland was the one who caused his injuries.
Fans and teammates noticed that the 23-year-old had an uncommon lack of confidence during the first game he played. After Monday’s practice, he talked thoughtfully with Mitchell, who encouraged him to be given more freedom.
Garland is now aware of the situation.
He then showed no fear as he drove to the hoop and attempted to dunk over 7-foot Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein, who got away with goaltending while fouling Cleveland’s guard. This was all part of a 13-4 outburst in the second quarter.
Mitchell said, “I’ve never seen him attempt to dunk on anybody, never alone someone seven feet tall.”
Garland’s confidence caused the bench for the Cavaliers to explode, and Mitchell clapped his hands before asking the sold-out fans to honor him. The moment concerns the Knicks, as shown by the fact that New York’s Josh Hart was punished for a technical foul.
Knicks: Unable to make a field goal in the opening 5 minutes and 13 seconds of the second quarter… During the second period, Randle and the referee, Tony Brothers, had two lengthy exchanges…. The treatment administered by Hart to the shaky ankle was unsuccessful. He had 17 points in the first game but only scored 5 in this one.
The Cavaliers scored 19 points from turnovers in the second quarter and 27 points in the first half of the game. The last club to do this was Denver in 2009, and Cleveland is the first team since then to… F Danny Green debuted in the series, playing all the allotted 20 minutes and collecting 3 points. His 315 career three-pointers in the playoffs are tied for eighth all-time in NBA history… F Isaac Okoro was only on the court for three minutes since he committed two fouls early on. Garland’s first-half total of 26 points was only three points short of the club playoff record for a half, which is currently held by LeBron James (2018). The Cavaliers’ postseason skid of five straight losses came to an end.
On Friday, the Knicks will play their first postseason game since the second of June 2021. New York’s record at home in the playoffs versus Cleveland is now 3-1.