It’s sweet “revenge” for fans of the Knicks : a little less than a year after having watched, helpless, the departure of Donovan Mitchell towards the Ridersthey observe this time their team giving a lesson to this same “Spida” and his troop, on vacation after five small games in this series, a “gentleman sweep”!
Because as in Game 1, 3 and 4, the players of new York actually unrolled their basketball, on both sides of the field, while those of Cleveland struggled to do the same. Particularly in attack, like the productive but ineffective outings of Darius Garland (21 points, but 4 assists for 6 ball losses, evaluation of -16) and Donovan Mitchell (28 points on 26 shots, rating -8).
Robinson stronger than Mitchell
Never trailing, the teammates of a Mitchell Robinson still in king mode of the racket (13 points and 18 rebounds) showed great mastery, once again, and therefore reaped a logical and well-deserved qualification in the second round. The first since 2013, by the way!
Outclassed in desire and intensity, but also from a tactical point of view, while JB Bickerstaff was particularly stubborn in leaving liberties to Jalen Brunson (23 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals), still elusive and valuable, the formation of Ohio simply took a slap against a better team.
The elimination is dry, brutal but logical, and opens the door to a summer that may be more turbulent than expected.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– Robinson, the best Mitchell in the series. The New York center was the boss of the racket since the start of the series, and he closed it with a masterpiece, in his own way: 13 points and 18 rebounds, including 11 offensive (!!!) , not to mention 2 interceptions and 3 blocks. “Mitch” has stomped Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen in the paint in those five games, and we think he’s clearly the Knicks’ second-best player on the series, just behind Jalen Brunson. Over the entire series, he grabbed 29 offensive rebounds, against 30 combined for Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen! An XXL productivity of the man.
– The Knicks finished off the Cavaliers with their weapon of mass destruction: the offensive rebound. It’s been six months since the Knicks’ season started, and six months since Tom Thibodeau’s men have been building their success, among other elements but above all, on a furious domination of offensive rebounds. It is therefore no surprise that after four games to dominate this sector, the Knicks end the series in style by offering a last lesson to the Cavaliers, that they exploded in the battle for the offensive rebound: 17 taken to 4! The only Mitchell Robinson capturing 11 of 17 offensive rebounds… Collectively, even if Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen are obviously the first cited in the dock, the Cavaliers have simply been pushed around like children in this series, by players from New York much, much, much more physical.
– The relapse of Julius Randle… It’s the only bad news from an otherwise perfect evening for the Knicks: “Ju” twisted the same left ankle, touched at the end of March, at the end of the second quarter. While playing the best basketball in his series, with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 6 assists when leaving his teammates. The good news is that the Knicks have qualified and now have at least two days off before Game 1 of the second round. To be continued…
– A deep questioning now necessary, in Cleveland. This indeed seems the first priority in the offseason of the Cleveland club. Relatively favorites, with home field advantage and the best player in the series in the ranks on paper, the Cavaliers have nevertheless taken a basketball lesson, which frankly sounds like a humiliation. Convincing in the regular season, this young group broke their teeth in this series of playoffs on a better team, better prepared, simply more coherent. From the players to the staff via the governing bodies with regard to the construction of the workforce, the bankruptcy was collective and we must now take stock, question ourselves and come back next year having learned the lessons of this failure.
TOPS & FLOPS
✅ Obi Toppin. We can’t give him the honorary title of man of the match as Mitchell Robinson was grandiose, but the leaping strong winger was incredibly valuable. Particularly in the third quarter, during which he scored 12 points to take over from Julius Randle, brilliant in the first half, but injured just before the break and never returned afterwards. After having finished the regular season well, the former Dayton delivered good playoffs, and confirms his capital importance in the rotation of Tom Thibodeau. Congratulations to him for being present during the most important half-time of his club for a decade.
✅ Josh Hart. What to say ? Watching Josh Hart play basketball is definitely a spiritual experience as the boy is absolutely fascinating to watch on the court. An inexhaustible ball of energy, he played 47 of the 48 minutes of the match, as a starter in place of Quentin Grimes, and delivered a new “masterclass” of which he alone has the secret: only 4 points, but 12 rebounds, including 9 defensive, and 2 assists. And ESPECIALLY: an exemplary defense on Donovan Mitchell, whom he stuck to all evening and prevented him from being comfortable and efficient (11/26 on shots). The former Lakers, Pelicans and Blazers may well be the most profitable in-season acquisition in the entire league. An awesome glue-guy.
✅ Jalen Brunson. Not a big address for the Knicks point guard (23 points at 8/22 on shots), but still the second best +/- of his team at +11 thanks to 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and an honorable defense throughout the season on Darius Garland. A sober but bossy game for “JB”, the undisputed best player in the series, ended with averages of 24.8 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game.
⛔ Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Cleveland side, they certainly represent the big disappointment in this series. Engulfed by the physical intensity of the Knicks, and particularly of Mitchell Robinson in their direct duel in the paint, the two interiors missed their Game 5 (10 points at 4/12 on shots and -23 on +/- in cumulated), culmination of a series more largely missed, even if the first named brought, by sequences, satisfactions on the defensive level. The series was a brutal “reality check” for the “Twin Towers” of Ohio.
– Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals: to be determined.
How to read the stats? Min = Minutes; Shots = Shots made / Shots attempted; 3pts = 3-points / 3-points attempted; LF = free throws made / free throws attempted; O = offensive rebound; D= defensive rebound; T = Total Bounces; Pd = assists; Fte: Personal fouls; Int = Intercepts; Bp = Lost bullets; Ct: Counters; +/- = Point differential when the player is on the field; Points = Points; Eval: player evaluation calculated from positive actions – negative actions.