February 27, 2024

The Cleveland Cavs had to answer the bell in Game 2 and they did. The Knicks tried to leave Cleveland going up 2-0 in the series, but the Cavs said, “Not tonight.” The Cavs won the first three quarters by playing Cleveland Cavs basketball. In Game 1, they were playing the Knicks game. They didn’t look assertive enough. Game 2 was a different story.

Cleveland did everything in this game that they didn’t do in Game 1. They had more effort. Cleveland won the rebound battle, 43-36. They outshot the Knicks from the field (49.4% to 36.7%) and in the 3-point territory (42.4% to 24.1%).

By the end of the first half, Cleveland had turned 14 Knicks turnovers into 27 points. Defense creates offense.

Their bench stepped up and put in points. Caris Levert scored 24 points off the bench in 39 minutes. Darius Garland was more aggressive both offensively and defensively. He had 32 points in this game. Donovan Mitchell had a career-high with 13 assists. Mitchell is a great scorer, but he did an outstanding job impacting the game by facilitating and trusting his teammates. Evan Mobley was also aggressive and finished with a double-double (13 points, 13 rebounds). Cleveland needed to win this game.

Julius Randle led the Knicks with 22 points and eight rebounds while shooting 8 of 20 from the floor. He took a hard fall in the fourth quarter and everyone is looking at coach Tom Thibodeau in why he was still in the game. Jalen Brunson added 20 points and six assists while shooting 5 of 17.

In Game 1, the Knicks were more physical and more aggressive. Cleveland must pay attention to this because the Knicks will play at home. Therefore, they will be much more physical and bold against the Cavs.

The series is tied at 1-1. Game 3 will be on Friday in the Garden. Can the Cavs keep this energy and assertiveness on the road? Will the Knicks slow down Mitchell and Garland? We will find out on Friday. 

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