The New York Knicks lost Game 2 of their Round 1 showdown against the Cleveland Cavaliers by a final score of 107-90, tying the series at one game each. The Cavs said that they needed to strike first in this game, and they accomplished so. The Knicks looked dreadful early in the game and it never got better.
The Knicks won Game 1 on the road this past Saturday thanks to strong performances from Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, as well as a much-needed lift from Josh Hart off the bench. If they wanted to leave Cleveland up 2-0 in this series, they needed to concentrate on rebounding and their bench once again. It would also be fascinating to watch how physically the Cavs opened this one up, since they said multiple times during post-game news conferences that they lacked the energy on that side of the ball in compared to New York.
The first began with a Brunson jumper after a turnover on the opposite end of the floor by Isaac Okoro. Donovan Mitchell immediately answered. Both offences were clearly seeking to settle in for the opening couple minutes of the session. Brunson and Randle, on the other hand, seemed aggressive from the start, wanting to score and drive against a powerful Cleveland frontcourt. Randle was particularly eager to get going early against Evan Mobley, who was fighting to contain him once again.
After the Knicks began to double Mitchell more often and push the ball out of his hands around midway through the quarter, Darius Garland began to heat up from beyond the arc. Hart entered the game for the first time around this time, barely a day after being labelled as questionable. The Knicks’ defence began to stagnate as Cleveland’s bench finally began to hit open baskets, and their offence became mired in muck as the Cavs’ defence improved dramatically. Fortunately, New York ramped up their pace and scored to take the lead late in the quarter. The Cavs snatched the lead back with a late flurry of foul trouble from the Knicks, and they led by three entering the second.
If New York wanted to stay in this game, they needed to tighten up on defence and create offence everywhere other than Brunson. While Cleveland was progressively knitting together their defensive strategies, it seemed like the Knicks couldn’t find consistency on that end. They extended their advantage to six points, with the Knicks appearing confused on offence due to the Cavs’ pressure on practically every possession. While New York was still seeking for a scoring opportunity, Cleveland eventually settled in thanks to some terrific passing from Mitchell and timely scoring from Garland. Despite some settling in from Brunson and Randle, Cleveland found open shooters on a regular basis and maintained its high-octane defence. After a dismal second quarter, the Knicks were behind by 20 points.
To get back into this game, New York needed an offensive answer other than Brunson or Randle, and they wanted to limit Cavaliers scoring as much as possible. Unfortunately, it did not seem that being punched in the mouth by Cleveland inspired the Knicks. They were chipping away here and there, but erroneous passing and poor shot selection kept them at bay. They went on a run late in the third quarter owing to stronger Knicks defence and more shots falling for them, but the lead seemed a bit out of reach.
To get back into this game, New York would most likely require a massive defensive effort and a miracle on offence. However, it became clear early in the quarter that this miracle would not occur. Turnovers on top of no go-to option on offence made the quarter hard to watch, as did the entirety of the game previous to this quarter. The game was effectively over when Mitchell hit a stepback jumper for a 27-point advantage. For whatever reason, head coach Tom Thibodeau rested several of his players, which resulted in Randle being fouled hard by Jarrett Allen and receiving a flagrant one. Thibodeau then began to clear his bench and raised the white flag.
Randle led the Knicks in scoring with 22 points. In addition, he had eight rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Brunson finished the game with 20 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four steals. Barrett finished with 14 points, three rebounds, two assists, and three thefts, while Quentin Grimes had four points, three rebounds, two assists, and three steals. Mitchell Robinson led the team with two points, five rebounds, and four blocks.
Obi Toppin scored seven points, an assist, a steal, and a block, while Immanuel Quickley had 12 points, two steals, an assist, and a rebound. Isaiah Hartenstein scored four points, seven rebounds, five assists, and a steal, while Hart had five points, four rebounds, and a steal. Deuce McBride saw action but did not record a stat. New York will seek to reclaim the series lead on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Madison Square Garden.