So far, the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ playoff matchup with the New York Knicks has been something out of a Dickens novel. A tale of two games: one a rock-fight loss for the Cavs, another a blistering blowout to tie up the series. The age of wisdom: the Cavs adjusted to Josh Hart‘s strong opening night and limited him to just five points on Tuesday. The age of insanity: Tom Thibodeau left his starters in late, despite the Cavs clearly having put the game away.
And for Darius Garland, it’s been a tale of two players. His playoff debut in Game One was one to forget; he scored 17 points, but was rendered impotent as a playmaker and finished with one assist.
But Garland was ready for Game Two.
“He was really quiet [after the Game One loss],” Donovan Mitchell told cleveland.com. “I’ve been there before, and I know what it looks like. He had that look in his eye yesterday. You just get into this place. You go to this space. And he went there. He didn’t play the way he wanted in Game 1. He puts a lot of pressure on himself but that’s what makes him so good. He is usually loud and joking around. He was locked in. He kept saying, ‘I will be better. I’m going to step it up. I need to step it up.’ And he did.”
Garland finished with a game-high-32 points against the Knicks on Tuesday. Even more important for the team, he finished with seven assists, unlocking the Knicks’ defense almost at will.
JB Bickerstaff Praises Caris LeVert After Beating Knicks
Garland wasn’t the only one to show out on Tuesday night. After JB Bickerstaff called out his team’s bench for their poor play in Game One, the second unit respond with a strong showing, led by Caris LeVert’s 24 points.
“There’s just so many people you got to guard, you know what I mean?” Bickerstaff told reporters after the game, per the Cavs’ official YouTube channel. “You got Darius and Donovan in space, so now teams have tough decisions to make on who they’re going to help off of. And Caris has the ability to play make, he has the ability to find open guys, but then you know what he’s capable of as a scorer as well. So it just puts people in a tough spot.”
LeVert received 40 minutes of action, replacing Isaac Okoro who got into early foul trouble. He was a leading reason for the Cavaliers’ double-digit lead with two minutes remaining in the game.
Julius Randle Blasts Jarrett Allen After Foul Call
It was around that two minutes remaining mark that Jarrett Allen went up for a block on a Julius Randle breakaway, only to crash into the player and send him careening to the floor.
Allen was called for a Flagrant 1 foul, which Randle thinks was rightfully earned.
“I thought it was a little unnecessary,” Randle said during his postgame interview. “When you understand playoff basketball, you don’t give up on plays, and I respect that. I’m somebody who plays hard. I respect that, but typically when you make those kinds of plays, you run across their body, not through them. But it’s fine. It’s irrelevant [now]. We go back to the Garden, and we’ll see them there.”
It remains to be seen whether the tensions from that foul will linger into Game Three, but expect the typically raucous crowd at MSG to rain boos down on Allen.