After the New York Knicks held on to win Game 1 of their first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, everyone was curious how the Cavs would respond. Cleveland was a six-point favorite by the time the game tipped off which felt a bit high. New York was 5.5 point underdog in game one and won outright. Once again it felt like the Knicks were being underlooked.
The Knicks came out strong and held a 13-6 lead almost six minutes into the game. It was short-lived as the Cavs would come back and make it a back-and-forth opening quarter. A Caris LeVert three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left would give Cleveland a 25-22 lead after one.
12 minutes of second-quarter hell:
Simply put, the Knicks stunk in the second quarter of this game.
RJ Barrett hit two foul shots with 10:14 in the quarter but those were the Knicks’ only points from 12:00-6:47. They started the second shooting 0/7 on field goals (a bold strategy with aspirations of winning a playoff game).
The Cavs didn't even shoot well themselves to start the quarter. They were 0/7 from the field from 12:00-9:23 until Jarrett Allen made a free throw. The game was there for the Knicks to take control of early in the second quarter but they couldn't put the ball in the basket.
Once Cleveland started scoring, they would go on a 13-2 run and take a 38-26 lead before the Knicks called timeout again with 6:02 left.
J.B. Bickerstaff's team would close the half strong with a 19-9 run in the final four minutes.
The carelessness with the basketball is really what did New York in as they had nine turnovers in the second quarter. The Knicks were fourth in the NBA this season in fewest turnovers per game.
They were outscored 34-17 in the quarter and put themselves in a 20-point hole going into halftime.
Here’s how bad that second quarter was:
unless i missed a possession which qualifies, the Cavs just scored 19 points off of turnovers in one quarter against the Knicks. to give you some context of how absurd that is, the Kings had 25 points off of Warriors turnovers in the entire game last night.— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) April 19, 2023
Down by 20 going into the final 24 minutes, the Knicks were going to have to make a run.
The low scoring continued as the Knicks only put up 21 points in the third quarter. Highlighted by missed shots, they only hit 6/22 field goals. One positive was they did 8/9 from the foul line in the quarter. Free throw shooting was a negative this season for the Knicks who finished 22nd in the NBA in free throw percentage. New York has shot it well from the line this series, hitting 47/52 (90.4%) foul shots in the first two games.
Going into the fourth quarter down 22 with only 60 points, we were 12 minutes away from finally ending this deflating playoff loss.
When a game like this is out of reach, the most important thing to do is make sure nothing stupid happens. The Knicks called timeout after a Donovan Mitchell jumper put the Cavs up 103-76 with three minutes left.
Instead of taking the two most important players out, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle (who already isn't playing at 100 percent) checked back into the game. The lowlight from this contest (Aside from Darius Garland having a legacy game) was Julius Randle taking a hard fall from a Jarrett Allen flagrant foul with 2:22 left.
Julius Randle takes a HARD fall after this dunk over Jarrett Allen late in the 4th of Knicks-Cavs Game 2— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) April 19, 2023
Allen was assessed a flagrant foul penalty 1.pic.twitter.com/yVqr7UtN0W
Randle would hit the foul shot and check out after this, going to the locker room in pain. Jalen Brunson thankfully also checked out after this.
The Knicks would actually win the fourth quarter 30-25 and win the second half 51-48.
The Knicks shot 29/79 (37%) overall and 7/29 (24%) from three. The Cavs outrebounded the Knicks 43-36 and held the second chance point margin 17-13. These are two areas the Knicks have been great in all season and I think they can get back on track. We knew this would be a hard-fought series between two really good defensive teams but the Knicks are better than this. Losses like this can build character, and this Knicks team should be built to bounce back.
The Knickerbockers get a much-needed couple of days of rest and the Garden should be a fun scene on Friday night!
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