Knicks oust Cavaliers to advance to second round NBA playoffs
CLEVELAND – The deeper and tougher Knicks ultimately had little trouble overpowering and defeating the Cavaliers, even making negligible contributions through most of their lone All-Star’s first round.
One game after Julius Randle sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter of Sunday’s Madison Square Garden win, he re-injured his left ankle late in the second quarter and did not play in the second half.
And Tom Thibodeau’s gritty squad reabsorbed every blow and triumphed again.
Jalen Brunson finished with a team-high 23 points and Obi Toppin capably filled in for Randle in the second half as the Knicks dispatched the Cavs in five games, finishing them without their leading scorer for the last two quarters of a series-seal 106-95 win Wednesday night in a shut down Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
Thibodeau and the Knicks are rightfully making the franchise’s first trip to the second round of the playoffs since 2013 and only their second since 2000.
The next series may begin as early as Sunday at the Garden, depending on the result of the first-round game between the No. 8 Heat and the top-seeded Bucks, who were later eliminated on Wednesday night and given a 3-1 hole. in Milwaukee.
RJ Barrett finished a strong last three games of the series with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting, and Josh Hart started again in place of Quentin Grimes, recording 12 rebounds in 47 heart rate minutes, including all of the second half.
Sixth-man runner-up Immanuel Quickley also came off his streak long scoring slump with 19 points off the bench, and Toppin scored all of his 12 in the third quarter with Randle offside, with two three-pointers and a pair of edge-rattling dunks .
Mitchell Robinson also completed a dominant streak against overmatched Cleveland bigs Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley with 13 points and 18 rebounds, including an astonishing 11 more on the offensive glass, plus two draining put-back dunks late in the fourth quarter
All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell scored 28 points for the Cavs, but the Westchester product was knocked out by his hometown team after the Knicks failed to pull him off the Jazz last summer.
Randle had 13 points before leaving just before the end of the second quarter after re-injuring the sprained left ankle that had kept him out of the last five games of the regular season.