In a rematch of last season’s playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked to gain revenge on the New York Knicks. Maintaining a better road record than home last season, the Knicks have made subtle improvements to bolster their roster and separate themselves from their Eastern conference rivals. New York found the win on Tuesday night, defeating the Cavs 109–91.
Studs: RJ Barrett continues to stand out
The emergence of RJ Barrett has been stellar. With incredible poise and contagious confidence, Barrett looked to attack mismatches early and often, making it a long night for new Cavalier Max Strus.
Studs: A cohesive game plan on the offensive end
Following a collapse on the road against the Pelicans, New York moved with an incredible cohesiveness. Committing to the extra pass and staying in motion, the Knicks look to preserve themselves, aware this is just the first meeting of a back-to-back against Cleveland.
Duds: Jalen Brunson struggled to defend Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell caught fire in the second quarter. He put up 14 points in the quarter and fueled a 13-4 run nearing the end of the first half. Jalen Brunson usually shows his best against Mitchell, but could not get shots to fall with only one point in the second quarter alone, ultimately finishing the game with two assists and five turnovers.
Duds: Playing the starters in a blowout
The Knicks were up 20 and still had stars in the game. The modern NBA suggests that a 20-point lead isn’t necessarily safe with five minutes to play.
Putting the game out of reach is key, but the Knicks have not only capable reserves, they have RJ Barrett. The rising star only saw seven minutes of playing time in the entire second half. Randle and Brunson eclipsed the 30-minute mark and combined for 38 points on 12/30 shooting.
Assuming Coach Thibodeau expects a high usage for Barrett in the second half of this back-to-back can be the only indication that won’t administer stunted growth on Barrett’s part.
Studs: The defense shuts Cleveland down in the third quarter
The third quarter of this game would be considered by many fans a sleeper. The Knicks capitalized heavily going to the free throw line, but the stellar defense held Cleveland scoreless for over three minutes, and they converted only three field goals in the first 12 minutes of the third quarter.
Studs: Immanuel Quickley puts on a show
The fourth quarter was the “IQ show.” Immanuel Quickley has been stellar out of the gate this season for the New York Knicks. The former SEC player of the year hit back-to-back bombs from downtown, ballooning the Knicks lead to 18 in the fourth quarter.
A big win for the Knicks
A big Josh Hart three with 6:33 to play ultimately sealed the deal for the New York Knicks. With an incredible performance by Isaiah Hartenstein, 13 points, and seven boards and demobilizing Evan Mobley, the Knicks won by the committee and look to build from that momentum on the tail end of this back-to-back in Madison Square Garden.