The New York Knicks dropped Game 2 of their Round 1 matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 107-90, sending the series into a 1-1 tie through the first pair of games. The Cavs expressed that they needed to punch first in this game and that they did. It looked bad for the Knicks early on in the game and it never got better.
The Knicks managed to clinch Game 1 on the road this past Saturday behind excellent efforts from Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle and a much-needed boost from Josh Hart off the bench. They needed to focus on rebounding and their bench once again if they wanted to try and leave Cleveland up 2-0 in this series. It was also going to be interesting to see how physically the Cavs opened this one up, as they mentioned numerous times during press conferences after Game 1 that they lacked the intensity on that side of the ball in comparison to New York.
The first opened with a Brunson jumper after a turnover from Isaac Okoro on the other end of the floor. Donovan Mitchell responded right back. For the first few minutes of the period, both offenses were definitely just looking to settle in. Brunson and Randle looked aggressive from the outset, though, with both looking to score and drive against a formidable Cleveland frontcourt. Randle was especially looking to get going early against Evan Mobley, who was struggling to once again contain him.
About halfway through the quarter, Darius Garland started to heat up from behind the arc after the Knicks started to double Mitchell more often and force the ball out of his hands. Hart checked into the game for the first time around this time, just a day after being listed as doubtful for the game. The Knicks began to stagnate on defense as Cleveland’s bench finally started to hit their open shots, and their offense was a bit stuck in the mud as the Cavs’ defense picked up immensely. Fortunately, New York picked up their speed and was able to score and get back into the lead late in the quarter. A late flurry of foul trouble from the Knicks led to the Cavs snatching the right back, though, and they led by three entering the second.
New York had to put the clamps on defense and find offense from somewhere other than Brunson if they wanted to keep in this game. It felt like while Cleveland was slowly piecing together their defensive schemes, the Knicks couldn’t find consistency on that end. They managed to stretch their lead to six with the Knicks looking lost on offense thanks to the pressure being applied by the Cavs on almost every possession. As New York was still looking for anything on the scoring end of things, Cleveland finally settled in behind some great passing from Mitchell and timely scoring from Garland. Despite some settling in from Brunson and Randle, Cleveland routinely found open shooters and kept its high-octane defense going. The Knicks were down 20 after a disastrous second quarter.
New York needed an answer on offense outside of isolation from Brunson or Randle and really had to keep the Cavs to as little scoring as possible to work their way back into this contest. Unfortunately, it did not seem like getting punched in the proverbial mouth by Cleveland did much to inspire the Knicks. They were chipping away here and there but errant passing and questionable shot selection was keeping them at bay. They went on a run late in the third thanks to some better defense from the Knicks and more shots falling for them, but the lead felt a little out of reach. They continued to try and get anything going through Brunson but were simply lost. They finished the third down by 22.
New York would likely need a huge defensive effort and a miracle on offense to come back into this contest. But, it became apparent that this miracle wasn’t coming early on into the quarter. Turnovers on top of no go-to option on offense made the period a painful watch, as well as the rest of the game prior to this quarter painful, too. After a stepback jumper from Mitchell to create a 27-point lead, the game was pretty much called. For some reason, head coach Tom Thibodeau left many of his starters out on the floor, which led to Randle getting fouled hard by Jarrett Allen, for which he was given a flagrant one. After that, Thibodeau started to empty his bench and waved the white flag.
Randle was the Knicks’ highest scorer with 22 points. He also had eight rebounds, an assist and a steal. Brunson had 20 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals. Barrett had 14 points, three rebounds and a steal while Quentin Grimes had four points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals. Mitchell Robinson had two points, five rebounds and four blocks.
Immanuel Quickley had 12 points, two steals, an assist and a rebound while Obi Toppin had seven points, an assist, a steal and a block. Hart had five points, four rebounds and a steal and Isaiah Hartenstein had four points, seven rebounds, five assists and a steal. Deuce McBride got playing time but did not record a stat
New York will now look to get back in the win column in this series on Friday at 8:30 pm at Madison Square Garden.
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