New York nightmare: Darius Garland not enough, Cavaliers lose to Knicks 102-93

New York has dominated Cleveland and defended their home court. The Cavaliers could be facing the end of the season sooner than expected.
new york mitchell
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 23: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks during Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 23, 2023 in New York City. The New York Knicks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

After the Cleveland Cavaliers flatlined in Game 3 in their ongoing series against the New York Knicks, New York big man Mitchell Robinson said that Cleveland looked rattled. Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff dismissed the notion, simply saying, “Our guys don’t fear anybody. We’re not shook by anyone. And we’ll be ready for Game 4.” Cleveland big man Evan Mobley expressed similar sentiments by saying, “They can say whatever.”

For the Knicks, it’s understandable why players like Robinson or anyone on New York’s roster spoke with so much confidence. The Knicks could defend their homecourt in a reasonably dominant fashion, frustrating the Cavaliers and keeping Cleveland at arm’s length away. New York has been more robust, faster, more intelligent and playing with a sense of urgency all series long, despite only losing to the Cavaliers once this postseason. It felt like New York was the team facing the possibility of elimination, not Cleveland. The Knicks consistently have brought an edge that the Cavaliers hadn’t been able to match and it gave faith to them saying whatever they felt like since, to that point, New York had earned it.

If Cleveland wanted to respond, they’d have to shut out the noise and, more importantly, shut up their opponent by maintaining composure. When Game 4 opened up, it looked like the Cavaliers were trying to control what they could handle. Sure, things still seemed tepid at times, but they scored more than 17 points in the opening frame as they did in Game 3. Besides Ricky Rubio, who didn’t take a single shot attempt in the first quarter, everyone scored that earned minutes in Cleveland’s opening rotation. Nevertheless, it appeared for the moment that the Cavaliers were finding their composure and settling in amid a hostile environment.

It’s excellent that Cleveland made strides in Madison Square Garden, where they had yet to win this season. Unfortunately, they could not control or contain New York or their fans for long and things quickly fell by the wayside. Overall, the Cavaliers gave up 17 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points to the Knicks. Everyone knew New York was a dominant offensive rebounding team in this series – Jarrett Allen even called Robinson the best offensive rebounding big in the NBA. But, time and again, the Knicks keep killing the Cavaliers on the glass and making high-energy, momentum-shifting plays to prevent Cleveland from having a real chance. It’s been the narrative all series long and keeps New York in the driver’s seat toward the second round of the playoffs.

“It’s tough and, I’m going to be quoting Donovan Mitchell right now, a lot of it is on me,” said Allen after Game 4. “I should be down there, boxing out and pushing guys around more. It’s frustrating to see myself let somebody get that many offensive rebounds.”

new york garland
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 23: Darius Garland #10 of the Cleveland Cavaliers moves the ball during Round 1 Game 4 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Are you a Cavs fan, or an Ohio sports fan? If so, visit betJACK: Ohio’s Sportsbook today! New users that sign up and place their first bet within 24 hours are eligible for 200% bet protection on their first bet, up to $1,000!

To be fair to Allen and his co-partner Evan Mobley, it’s not entirely on them to control the Knicks’ offensive flow. But, if they continue to struggle to corral offensive rebounds, the Cavaliers must meet their opponent and battle with them shot for shot. That means it falls squarely on the shoulders of Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland’s superstar backcourt and the engine of the offense’s entire system.

After a nightmare Game 3, Garland found his footing on Sunday – posting 23 points and ten assists- a key reason this game was within striking distance for the Cavaliers. But, for Mitchell, things couldn’t be worse. In Game 4, Mitchell scored 11 points on 27.8% shooting and didn’t connect on a single three-point attempt. Mitchell also had four rebounds, five assists and six turnovers, resulting in eight points for New York.

“I didn’t show up for my teammates,” said Mitchell. “Everybody did their job, and I didn’t do what I was capable of and that’s on me. I played like shit. I’m the leader of this group, everybody did their job, and I didn’t. Simple as that.”

Mitchell didn’t have it going in Game 4 for Cleveland, and his holding himself accountable while taking the blame is what you want from your leader. Besides a solid 38-point, series-opening performance, Mitchell has been virtually non-existent at times for the Cavaliers this postseason. New York has continually dialed up the defensive pressure on Mitchell, making it hard for him to find consistency and rhythm on offense. It’s frustrated Mitchell and has had a negative effect overall for the Cavaliers on offense.

Sure, the 31 points he generated off his playmaking in Cleveland’s Game 2 certainly help when Mitchell’s shot isn’t falling. But, when shots aren’t falling for anyone on the Cavaliers, Cleveland needs Mitchell to step up and perform. In his postseason career, Mitchell is a big-time playoff performer and it’s part of why the Cavaliers wanted to acquire a superstar of his caliber heading into this season. Mitchell met those expectations when Cleveland needed his scoring acumen most during the regular season.

Based on a strong regular season, the expectation was for things to be the same when the lights got even brighter come playoff time, but Mitchell still needs to get it going. The sentiment has always been that the Cavaliers will only go as far as Mitchell can take them when the playoffs arrive. With Cleveland now facing elimination, Mitchell and the Cavaliers may only be able to go a little bit further.

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at [email protected] He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

Did you enjoy this story from Right Down Euclid? Then it would be best if you become a paid supporter. Every dollar goes right back into making fully independent Cleveland sports coverage possible. Also, be sure to check out our new merchandise!

Leave a Reply

Commenting on posts is open to our supporters.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thanks for reading!

Let’s stay in touch. The Right Down Euclid newsletter is a recap of the week’s top stories.

Sign up for free now. You can unsubscribe any time.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top