Knicks take commanding win over Cavaliers in defensive masterclass

NBA: New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks came out of the gates firing, with 58 points to open the first half, as RJ Barrett continued his hot start to the season with 15 points on nine shots, and Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle added 11 and 12 points respectively. They kept the Cavs at bay from three in that first half, as Cleveland shot just 5-20 in the opening quarters, but Donovan Mitchell had his way with 20 points on 14 shots, only taking one shot from beyond the arc.

Going 8-19 from beyond the arc (42.1%) set the tone for the Knicks’ offense from deep, and that translated into a second half where they stifled the Cleveland offense. The Knicks held the Cavs to just 16 points in the third quarter and remained steady from three, creating a massive three-point differential between the Knicks and Cavaliers. With this win, they go to 2-2 on the season, and they got a much-needed road win in this two-game series against the Cavs.

Knicks Create Havoc for the Cleveland Offense Once Again

NBA: New York Knicks at Cleveland Cavaliers
Oct 31, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (12) and New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) look to rebound in the second quarter at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

While the Knicks were efficient on offense, they didn’t put up a massive night in the box score offensively, but that’s because they were handling their business on the other end of the floor. Outside of Donovan Mitchell, who shot 11-20 from the field for 26 points, the Cavaliers were silent on offense, with no other player surpassing 11 points on the night, and the team shooting a combined 36-92 from the field (39.1%) and 10-38 from three (26.3%), which is a credit to the Knicks’ defensive identity and game plan.

They carried over their success in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season against Cleveland, who they held to just 94.2 points per game in the 4-1 series victory for New York, and while the Cavs are without Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert, they did what they should do; dominate. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson finished tied for the team lead in points on the night with 19 apiece, and while neither was remarkably efficient, they both were able to contribute in other ways to positively impact the game.

Randle collected a team-best 10 rebounds, helping on the glass alongside Mitchell Robinson, Josh Hart, and Isiah Hartenstein who had seven boards each. RJ Barrett finished with 16 points, and the slow second half shouldn’t fool you, because he got the offense going early and catapulted them to their first-half lead. As for Immanuel Quickley, he put on a clinic with 18 points on 6-11 from the field and 3-6 from three, helping ice the game and put the Cavs to bed.

They shot 13-34 from beyond the arc (38.2%) and 20-25 from the charity stripe (80%) which is huge for their ability to win games against quality opponents, and holding Cleveland to just 91 points will certainly put a damper on their season, as they’ll travel to Madison Square Garden for their second straight matchup, with the Knicks sitting at 2-2 and the Cavaliers at 1-3. 7:30 PM is the listed start time, and the Knicks will look to get their first back-to-back wins of the year and get themselves above .500 for the first time in the early going of the 2023-2024 season.

It may not be a flashy win, but this is one of those games that the Knicks would love to repeat as many times as possible as if they can remain efficient on offense and relentless on defense, they’ll find themselves as one of the top eams in the Eastern Conference once again.

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