Quentin Grimes missed Game 4, and the New York Knicks frustrated the Cleveland Cavaliers in putting up a 3-1 lead in the Eastern quarter-finals. That, we all know.
What you might not be aware of is that Deuce “Dawg” McBride stepped up and played his most impactful five minutes of the 2023 postseason.
Deuce entered the game, graced the hardwood of MSG, sent Donovan Mitchell down to experience hell, forced him to miss a shot after the All-Star found absolutely no way out of his D, and indirectly lead Mitchell to commit a foul on I-Hart out of frustration.
Deuce McBride got Donovan Mitchell in HELL pic.twitter.com/A8jFQLXDwz— Teg (@IQfor3) April 23, 2023
Giving Spida fits looks like what this young man was meant to do, and he surely got an A+ grade on the assignment.
“I’m gonna take every challenge,” McBride told Ian Begley of SNY inside the locker room after Game 4 was over. “I’m not going to back down from anybody.” Immaculate attitude.
Deuce took advantage of Grimes’ absence from the fourth game of the first-round series, and so did Josh Hart starting in place of the second-year guard.
Hart completed one of his best games donning Knickerbocker threads, bagged 19 points, and filled the rest of the stat line with seven boards, two steals, and two dimes on the spot. Only Jalen Brunson (43) played more minutes than Hart’s 40 in Game 4.
McBride, who played just a fraction of that time off the pine, was as impactful in his little relief run.
“I was fortunate enough to get this chance to go out there and play, and I just want to show what I can do,” added Decue. “[Mitchell] is the head of the snake. I just wanted to make sure everybody was locked in on him. Obviously, they have other players that can really make plays, but just cutting him off is gonna start us on the right track.”
You bet he did. Oofffff, this kid...
“Our bench has really good chemistry,” Tom Thibodeau himself acknowledged after the game. “They play off each other really well.”
Watched that single play above, with Deuce putting the clamps on Mitchell, you’d never believe Thibs’ post-game comments.
“Our defense wasn’t very good,” said Thibodeau. “We were playing slowly, but I think when you’re not getting stops that tends to lead to that. We know there are going to be shifts in games. We got to make sure that we can get through that.”
Another key defensive choice Thibs made, on top of throwing McBride into the game out of the blue, was sitting a struggling Julius Randle for the entire fourth quarter thrusting Obi Toppin and a Hartenstein/Robinson hodgepodge for the final 12 minutes. It worked wonders.
Mitch-Rob scored 12 points and pulled down 11 boards (seven of them offensive). I-Hart grabbed eight rebounds, dished out two dimes, and stole a couple of possessions. Both bigs swatted a couple of rocks.
Reporter: "Is Playoff Mitch a thing? Do you feel more geared in right now defensively?"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 23, 2023
Mitchell Robinson: "No. Playoff Mitch is not a thing. It's still Mitch" pic.twitter.com/BwK6DgntoN
Good to know this Robinson is here to stay, and just a flash in the pan. Is Playoff Mitch a thing, asked Begley. “No. Playoff Mitch is not a thing,” Robinson said. “I’m still Mitch.”
Thibodeau just went with the flow. He rode the hot hand. He simply outcoached J.B. Bickerstaff and the neophyte Cavaliers.
“[Randle] had to work around the clock to get back. That’s what I love about Julius,” Thibodeau said. “He gives you everything he has. Seventy-seven games, he sprains his ankle and then works like crazy to get back, knowing how important he is to the team to get back to get ready to play. He pushed, and our medical people did a great job, but that’s all him. He was working around the clock on that, and he still is. That’s the challenge that we have, that’s what I respect about him.”
According to Thibs, the unit that played for most of the fourth quarter (Brunson, Hart, Barrett, Toppin, Hartenstein/Robinson), just “got going,” so he “rode that out.” Randle didn’t speak after the game, leaving MSG early per ESPN.
Speaking of MSG, Thibs kept giving the crowd its flowers saying that there is “nothing like a big game at the Garden.”
"The Garden was different today"— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 23, 2023
Deuce McBride talks about the energy the Knicks got from their fans today: pic.twitter.com/HecZqlPeZF
Thibs was pleased with the overall performance of the team. “We responded,” said Thibodeau. “We got hit hard, picked ourselves up, and came back.”
“That’s the ‘it’,” JBB tried to explain after Sunday’s matchup. “We keep talking about it and keep talking about it.”
The Cavs got out-rebounded by New York 47 to 33. They turned the ball over 12 times. They committed 23 fouls to the Knicks’ 15. On and on it goes....
“You learn when it hurts the most. We’ve been talking about our success of going quickly when we learn from our mistakes,” Bickerstaff added. “In these three games, we haven’t learned quickly enough, and they’ve made us pay.”
Big man Jarrett Allen blamed the Cavs’ poor performance heavily on himself, saying that “it’s a lot on me,” and that he “should be down there boxing out and pushing guys around more.” Allen acknowledged it was “frustrating to see myself let somebody get that many offensive rebounds.”
Donovan Mitchell, limited to a measly two points in the second half (shooting 1-for-9), said that he “didn’t show up for my guys,” before adding that “everybody did their job—we had some faults as a group, but ultimately, I didn’t do what I was supposed to do, and I take that, and I just got to be better.”
Visibly unhappy, Mitchell simply claimed to have “played like shit.”
"That's what the people want to see, two of the top guards in the East go at it. I'm gonna guard him on the defensive end. So yeah, that's a matchup I want."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) April 23, 2023
Darius Garland talks about his matchup with Jalen Brunson: pic.twitter.com/Zy65VxIec4
Darius Garland praised Jalen Brunson saying the Knicks point guard is “a really good player.” Asked about whether or not he wants to keep guarding him on defense, Garland thinks “that’s what the people want to see, two of the top guards in the East go at it,” saying that “I’m gonna guard him on the defensive end—yeah, that’s a matchup I want.”
Speaking for him and his teammates, newly-minted starter Josh Hart said that stopping Mitchell and the Cavs in Game 4 was “a full team effort,” adding that “the biggest thing with us—we want to make it tough.”
McBride delivered. Toppin delivered. Hartenstein delivered. Hart, even starting, truly delivered. Hell, every single freaking Knickerbocker put on a show on Sunday’s matinee.
“It’s a best-of-seven series,” said Hart after the game. “Going into their home now, so they’re gonna be ready. Obviously, the crowd is gonna be crazy, but we just need to focus on getting better as a team.”
Game 5 tips off next Wednesday at 7:00 ET. The Land is the place. Don’t miss it.