If you are attending games at MSG next Friday and/or Sunday you might want to check some of this stuff out, as you won’t be hearing that this weekend in NYC.
But hey, at the end of the day, New York sucked.
Cleveland edged the Knicks on the glass (43 to 36), on the assists column (26 to 16), on the shooting front (49/42/81 splits to 36/24/83), and with their second unit on the floor (36 points to 28).
It was, simply put, a role reversal compared to Game 1—and to the regular season as a whole.
Julius Randle doesn’t think Cleveland “bullied us,” thinking instead the Cavs “just responded to our physicality. That’s what you’re supposed to do in a playoff game,” Randle said.
Randle and Immanuel Quickley were the only players with “New York” stitched on their chest shooting above 40% while hoisting 8+ shots on Tuesday.
RJ Barrett scored 14 points on 13 shots from the floor. Jalen Brunson finished with 20 on 17 field-goal attempts. Quentin Grimes just tried his luck two times through 22 minutes missing both shots.
Josh Hart, I-Hart, Obi Toppin, and Mitchell Robinson combined for a measly 8-of-19 and 18 points. None of them logged fewer than 15 minutes.
After not shooting once through Q4 of G1, Garland came out firing and murdered the Knicks' chances at getting to MSG leading 2-0 and dominating the quarter-finals of the playoffs. The All-Star guard dumped 26 points in the first half alone on his way to finishing with a team-high 32.
So dominant were the Cavs, in fact, that Donovan Mitchell only had to shoot the ball 11 times in 39 minutes and even though he finished with a “low” 17 points his team would have still forced overtime removing his buckets from the scoreboard. He decided it was a nice day to hand goodies to his teammates (career-high 13 dimes) instead of piercing the rim himself.
One of these two teams only came to play, the other came to put on a hellacious fight.
Blitzing Brunson is one of the smartest thing the Cavs have done so far— Bowser2Bowser (@bowser2bowser) April 18, 2023
Make Obi Toppin beat you pic.twitter.com/R9O5JrdZ7L
“We gotta do a better job of punching back,” RJ Barrett said.
“They were into us, they made us feel [them] right from the start, and we just never adjusted,” Quickley said.
All living, breathing Knicks were trying to find solace in the fact that they will be back home the next time they meet their foes... and currently boasting home-court advantage. We’ll see how that goes, tho.
“At the end of the day, we came here and did what we’re supposed to do,” Randle said. “We got one on the road.” For Randle, “in the big picture of things,” the Knicks “have to be positive about that.”
“Obviously MSG is going to be rocking,” Josh Hart said.
Both Randle and Hart, however, said that the team “got to play a lot better next game,” and that they “have got to go out there and execute” on Friday, respectively. “We’ll be home but that doesn’t guarantee two wins,” Hart finished.
Brunson acknowledged Cleveland’s dominance through Game 2. “They just played better, they were desperate.” the point guard said. “We’ve got to get together the next couple of days and get ready to go Friday. We’ve got to be better.”
The Cavs limited New York to 90 points on Tuesday, something that had not happened to the Knicks since they dropped a game to Brooklyn all the way back on Nov. 11th when they scored 85 points. Nearly a month after that, in New York’s first-of-three regular-season wins over the Cavs, the latter held New York to 92 points. The Knicks scored 95+ points in all other contests they played this campaign.
Perhaps something the Knicks can hang on to and try to build upon is IQ’s late surge as he went on to score 10 points in the final stanza. Quickley doesn’t seem to believe in such a thing having any lasting effect.
“Honestly, every game is new,” Quickley said after the game. “Simply because every game is a new game, you start zero-for-zero. It’s 1–1 in the series, and you just move on to the next game.”
"They made us feel it right from the start, and we just never adjusted"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 19, 2023
Immanuel Quickley talks about what the Cavaliers did tonight to make the Knicks uncomfortable: pic.twitter.com/vBVguy63bh
Quickley acknowledged that he “hasn’t played as well as he wanted to.” He added that “whether you’re missing shots or not, it’s never a reason not to play defense,” and that he “just gotta be better defensively.”
IQ said that “everybody” needs to step up, although he added that “it starts with me—looking in the mirror and just finding ways to help the team. Just being better overall.”
Barrett, who already went through some struggles in Game 1 (seven points shooting 2-of-12 overall and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc), didn’t help himself that much on Tuesday with another mediocre 14-point, 35.7-percent shooting day launching 14 shots but only finding the net in five of those occasions.
No worries, though.
“I’m a shooter. Also, I’ve been getting a lot of free throws, said Barrett. “So my shot’s fine,” he concluded.
At least Barrett gave Cleveland some of his flowers. “They picked up their ball pressure. They were there on the little dump-offs that we normally were making. Credit to them,” Barrett said. “They played a great defensive game.”
RJ Barrett on what he expects from Madison Square Garden on Friday night:— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 19, 2023
"I know it's gonna be loud. The fans are gonna be into it. It's gonna be a great atmosphere. It's the most special place to play, so it's gonna be a lot of fun." pic.twitter.com/g4FxkwnnKJ
You better believe between the confidence and the Garden, the Knicks will stay undefeated.
“You know what to expect,” Randle said. “It’s the Garden. It’s the Garden.”
Ayo, RJ, where you at!? “We did our job. Got one on the road,” claimed Barrett. Yessir, the New Yorker mentality!
Thank God, Randle sprinkled a little bit of sense over this nonsensical overhyped talk after Tuesday’s loss. “We weren’t expecting the series to be over in four or whatever it is. We’re taking it a game at a time. So we just got to adjust and we’ll be fine,” he stated. “Obviously, we could’ve played better after the first game. We definitely feel like we can play better now. But as a group we’re positive. We feel confident.”
So do we, Julius, so do we.
Five-game series from now on. The Knicks will host the Cavaliers at MSG next Friday with Game 3 tipping off at 8:30 ET. Not even too late even for Chuckster-aged folks, so don’t miss it.