Cavaliers Issued Urgent Warning Ahead of Knicks Playoff Showdown

Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Though the Cleveland Cavaliers feature an impressive array of young talent in Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, the team’s playoff ambitions may be limited by the fifth starter.

All season, the swing spot in the starting five has been a soft one for Cleveland. As it stands, the team has several decent options, off the bench, but regular starter Isaac Okoro is still battling a knee injury that’s sidelined him since the end of March.

According to Bleacher Report’s Mo Dakhil, that soft spot could be the one factor that holds Cleveland back.

“The Cleveland Cavaliers have an unbelievable four-man core, but their playoff hopes will hinge on the shooting of that fifth player on the court,” Dakhil wrote. “We are talking about guys like Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, Dean Wade and Lamar Stevens.

“A lot of the Cavs’ playoff hopes will come down to if their role players can keep defenses honest and spread by hitting enough threes in a series,” Dakhil finished.

While Okoro’s regular season might have ended prematurely, the team is optimistic that he’ll return against the Knicks, per the Akron Beacon Journal.

JB Bickerstaff Sounds Off on Cavaliers’ Preparation

Fortunately, the Cavaliers have known their likely playoff opponent for some time now. While the Western Conference’s official seeding came down to the wire, the Eastern Conference’s top five seeds have been largely cemented for weeks.

The Cavaliers will take on the Knicks in the first round. New York boasts stars in Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle, though the latter has been out with injury. Nonetheless, the Knicks finished with the league’s fourth-best offense on the season, something JB Bickerstaff & Co. have been preparing for.

“You have to start preparing things, and we’re working on booklets and analytic packets and videos and all those things that you have to start with,” Bickerstaff said, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “And we’ve been fortunate to kind of know who our opponent was going to be, so we could delegate that stuff to get us at a good spot when we need to start.”

Though Dakhil labeled the Cavaliers’ swing spot as the likeliest factor to hold Cleveland back, there’s another creeping concern: the team’s lack of playoff experience.

JB Bickerstaff Sounds Off on Cavaliers’ Experience

While Donovan Mitchell brings five years of playoff experience to the table, even he’s never made a Conference Finals. Brunson, his Knicks foil, is fresh off of leading the Dallas Mavericks to the Western Finals a year ago.

Jarret Allen has appeared in nine playoff games in his career, the last eight of which have been losses. Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Okoro have never played this late in April.

But Bickerstaff isn’t too concerned.

“I’m confident in our group, period,” Bickerstaff said. “I believe when we’re at our best, we’re a tough out for anybody. We need to make sure we’re aware and tighten up the details and our execution and all those things. And, again, it’s going to be a new test for us. We have guys that are going to be in their first playoff series. So it’s never going to come easy, but I have a lot of confidence in our group.”

The Cavaliers and Knicks will kick off their series on Saturday evening.

Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x