Julius Randle made a joke about being out of shape, and Josh Hart showed up to the postgame press conference wearing a T-shirt with a picture of a teammate Jalen Brunson on the front of it.
At long last, the Knicks were able to unwind.
After a few weeks that were cause for concern, New York’s season is now back to full health, and it will be very successful.
Brunson overcame his foul problems and scored 21 of his 27 points in the second half. Randle returned from an ankle injury to add 19 points and a crucial last rebound, and the Knicks beat the Cavaliers 101-97 on Saturday night to welcome Cleveland back into the NBA playoffs.
Brunson was only allowed to play for nine minutes in the first half, but he made several crucial baskets down the stretch as the Knicks fended off a late charge led by All-Star Donovan Mitchell of the Cavaliers. Mitchell completed the game with 38 points.
Brunson missed a pullup shot with nine seconds remaining, and Randle bailed out the Knicks with his 10th rebound, the team’s 17th offensive board. This led to Quentin Grimes scoring two free throws, which sealed the victory for the Knicks.
Tom Thibodeau, the head coach for the Knicks, said that “You can’t say enough about the tremendous rebound Julius made at the end.” “The comeback had a significant impact. Huge.”
Randle hadn’t played since March 29 due to an injured left ankle, and he expressed gratitude that he still had the stamina for one more leap.
Randle, who had played for 34 minutes, said, “You see me breathing out there today?” “I was worn out to the point of no return. At that time, though, the only thing that mattered was to come out on top.”
It was brought to Randle’s attention that the Knicks had a similar play in Game 1 of their series against the Atlanta Hawks in 2021, but he could not come up with the ball.
He said that it was “funny how things turn, right.”
Tuesday is the day for the second game, which will take place at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Mitchell scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough for the youthful Cavaliers, who disappointed a rowdy, towel-waving Cleveland crowd that hadn’t seen a playoff game since the 2018 NBA Finals.
It has been a long journey back for Cleveland, more supported by its inexperience than by a lack of performance from the bench.
“First, I want to assure you that the world’s end is not imminent. Mitchell said there was an immediate need for us to go and buy one. “There is no place to sit here and feel sorry for yourself or get depressed. There is just one game being played here. You can count on a response from us.
In his first postseason game for New York, Josh Hart contributed 17 points, ten rebounds, and a clutch 3-pointer in the game’s closing moments. Cleveland’s bench players were outscored 37-14 by New York’s bench players.
Jarrett Allen scored 14 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland, while Darius Garland scored 17 and grabbed 14 rebounds. Evan Mobley shot just four of thirteen field goals, yet he still scored eight points.
After injuring his ankle on March 29, Randle could not play for New York for the next five games, and the team’s chances of making the playoffs were in trouble. In spite of the fact that he didn’t take a lot of hits in practice, he made significant strides this week and seemed to be his normal self right from the start.
The Knicks gained momentum while he was on the court.
Obi Toppin scored nine points in the third quarter and said it was “simply a fantastic sight” to see player number 30 on the court.
After Brunson picked up his second foul with 7:52 remaining in the first quarter, Thibodeau had no option but to replace the guard. Brunson had scored a career-high 48 points against the Cavaliers on March 31 – the first game Randle missed.
Because of Brunson’s foul issues, Hart was worried that he had made a bad decision regarding his attire.
“I told him I was going to wear it at some point,” Hart recalled. “I told him I would wear it at some time.” “Then, on the day I wear it, he gets into serious problems. As a result, I will go burn it, and I won’t be wearing it again.”
The Cavaliers could not capitalize on the absence of Brunson as New York scored ten consecutive baskets to establish a 30-24 lead after the first quarter.
After receiving his third foul halfway through the second quarter, Brunson returned to the bench. Once again, Cleveland could not take advantage of their opportunities, and the Knicks had a lead of 50-45 at the break.
After jumping from a table at courtside and falling many rows into the bleachers to save a stray ball during the second quarter of the game, Mitchell suffered a painful landing on his lower back due to the fall.
He grimaced in discomfort as the man helping him to his feet returned him to the ground. Then, during the ensuing pause, Mitchell expressed his gratitude to the spectators who helped cushion his fall.
I purposefully leaped at them, but they moved out of the way. “Mitchell, who had a minor cut on his arm, expressed his thoughts. They are not to blame in my eyes. I would have acted in the same manner. Love is the driving force behind everything.
NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
The Knicks have been unbeatable against the Cavaliers, prevailing in all three of their last playoff series.
In the Coliseum in Richfield in 1978, New York swept a best-of-three series; at Gund Arena in 1995, they won 3-1; and in 1996, they swept a series of five games.
Spike Lee, a great fan of the New York Knicks, was seen sitting courtside while sporting New York’s signature bright orange… A total of seven offensive rebounds were recorded by the player in the final quarter.
Mitchell became the fourth player in Cavs history to score at least 38 points in a playoff game, joining LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Brad Daugherty…. The facility, which has previously been known as Gund Arena and Quicken Loans Arena, served as the site of the 81st playoff game that Cleveland hosted… The Knicks (5-0), the Spurs (2-0), the Warriors (6-4), and the Cavaliers (57-24) all have winning playoff records at the venue. Myles Garrett, an outstanding player for the Browns, and Kevin Stefanski, the head coach of the Browns, were seen sitting near the Cleveland bench.