The New York Knicks concluded the Cleveland Cavaliers’ season on Wednesday night with a 106-95 Game 5 victory on the road, clinching their first-round series 4-1.
This marks the first time the Knicks have won a playoff series since 2013 when RJ Barrett was only 12 years old.
Now 22, Barrett has experienced it all with the Knicks and is currently one of the team’s most significant contributors to their playoff success. His performance in Game 5, alongside Jalen Brunson, secured New York a spot in the second round against the Miami Heat.
Barrett’s redemption tour continued on Wednesday, with 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists on 7-13 shooting and 2-4 from beyond the arc. His assertiveness has transformed him into the playoff star the Knicks hoped for when they drafted him 3rd overall in 2019.
After a challenging first two games that led Knicks fans to question his playing time, Barrett finished the series strong, averaging 22 points on 55.8% shooting from the field in the final three games, during which the Knicks went 3-0.
Brunson maintained his exceptional performance with 23 points and two steals. He cooled off after a hot first half, during which he scored 17 points on 6-11 shooting, but that first half was enough to push the Knicks over the edge.
The first-year Knick finished the first round averaging 24 points per game, along with 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds, and a true shooting percentage of 53.2%.
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The Knicks need to fend off Julius Randle’s injury:
While the Knicks celebrated their series win, the triumph was bittersweet, as All-Star Julius Randle re-aggravated his left ankle sprain late in the second quarter on Wednesday night and did not return. Prior to the injury, he had a strong performance, finishing with 13 points, four rebounds, and six assists in approximately 16 minutes of action.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the initial impression of Randle’s injury is that it is “not as severe as Randle’s prior ankle ailment.”
Obi Toppin stepped up for the injured Randle in a significant way, scoring all 12 of his points in the third quarter of Game 5, including two three-pointers, to bolster the suddenly shorthanded Knicks.
“We’ve had a ‘next man up’ mentality all year, so when a guy goes down, the next guy steps up, it’s a part of having such a great team, and we definitely want those guys to come back,” Barrett said. “So we’ll be waiting for that, seeing how that goes.”RJ Barrett via NY Post
Other key performers in Game 5 included Immanuel Quickley and Mitchell Robinson. Quickley, who had struggled offensively throughout the series, found his shot on Wednesday, contributing 19 points.
Robinson dominated the interior game, recording a massive double-double with 13 points and 18 rebounds (11 offensive), along with two steals and three blocks.
Josh Hart scored only four points in a game-high 46 minutes but grabbed 12 rebounds and displayed tremendous energy and hustle on the defensive side of the floor, remaining an impactful presence.
With the Heat upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks in their first-round matchup, the Knicks and Heat will begin their second-round series on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
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