A promising season for the Cleveland Cavaliers came to a meek end on Wednesday when they fell to the New York Knicks in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series and were sent home for the summer.
As the series wore on, it became clear that the Knicks’ frontline was simply stronger, more rugged and more experienced than its Cleveland counterpart, and the Knicks took advantage on the boards, where they enjoyed a healthy edge.
Cavs starting center Jarrett Allen couldn’t help but praise Mitchell Robinson after Wednesday’s defeat.
“Mitchell Robinson’s just the best offensive rebounder in the league…His positioning, he’s stronger than he looks & the man can touch the rim without jumping—he has a lot of length on his arms. And he’s excellent about how he uses all his abilities”
— Jarrett Allen pic.twitter.com/K8RL0Qc5zt
— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) April 27, 2023
New York took Game 1 of the series, 101-97, but when Cleveland won Game 2 by 17 points, it looked like the series may go six or seven games.
Instead, the Knicks dominated Game 3 and Game 4 at Madison Square Garden, and suddenly the outcome of the matchup wasn’t in doubt.
For the series, the Knicks averaged 45.4 rebounds a game while Cleveland grabbed just 37.2 boards per contest, and Allen, who averaged 9.8 rebounds a game in the regular season, was down to just 7.4 rebounds per game against New York.
Another problem for the Cavs was their lack of bench production — while the Knicks had Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin giving them production off the bench, Cleveland had no reserves who were a spark plug.
The team’s weak bench will likely be the first and most important issue they will have to address this offseason.
All in all, the Cavs have a bright future, as they have one of the NBA’s best backcourts in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, while Evan Mobley has the potential to become a star big man within a few years.NEXT: Donovan Mitchell Set Multiple Milestones Despite A Rough Exit