The Cleveland Cavaliers‘ 99-79 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday was packed with blows on and off the floor. Perhaps it should have been expected, with the young and inexperienced Cavs heading to Madison Square Garden for its first playoff road test.
After the game, Knicks big man Mitchell Robinson said the Cavs “got shook up” by MSG’s atmosphere, which caused them to choke from the pressure.
But Cavs big man Evan Mobley brushed Robinson’s comments, explaining that Friday night was just a one-off for Cleveland, not the be repeated.
“They can say whatever,” Mobley said during practice on Saturday, per the Cavs’ official YouTube channel. “I’m still going to approach each game how I’m going to approach it. I feel like as a team we’re going to keep approaching the games as we approach them and just stay within us and be ourselves. I just feel like we missed shots. Just wasn’t our game. Have to approach it as a new game and come in and be ready for the next.”
Mobley finished with a quiet 10-point, 10-rebound performance against the Knicks. If anything, the blowout loss allowed Cleveland to rest its starters, hopefully keeping them fresh for Sunday’s contest.
JB Bickerstaff Sends Message to Knicks Ahead of Game Four
Mobley wasn’t the only one asked about Robinson’s comments. After practice on Saturday, head coach JB Bickerstaff used Robinson’s own words to describe how the Cavaliers plan to attack Game Four.
“No, I think we experienced new experiences,” Bickerstaff said. “Young guys and their first road playoff game, those are things you go through. Our guys don’t fear anybody. We’re not shook by anyone.”
The Cavs’ 79-point showing was the lowest of the season. Prior to the loss, Cleveland was the only team in the NBA to not have scored fewer than 80 points in a game all season.
But the Cavs’ offense has been woeful all postseason. Cleveland currently owns the worst offensive rating of any team in the playoffs, scoring just 100.7 points per 100 possessions. Fortunately for Cleveland, the Knicks aren’t much better, with the second-worst offensive rating.
Rather, both sides have turned the series into a defensive rock fight; the flip side of both sides having the bottom two offensive ratings is that both also sit atop the league in postseason defensive rating.
Now, the Cavs face a do-or-die Game Four. A loss would send the series to 3-1 and back to Cleveland, a difficult hole to crawl out of. It’s not impossible, though; a comeback from a 3-1 deficit has happened 13 times in NBA history, including when the Cavs won the Finals in 2016.
Mitchell Robinson Calls Out Mobley & Allen
Robinson’s made a habit of antagonizing the Cavaliers during the series. Before the series started, he shot down the notion that none of New York’s bigs could handle Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
Bondy: When you play a team like that, that has two legitimate big men, how much different is-
Robinson: We got two of ’em too. Really we got three.
Bondy: I mean starters.
Robinson: What you mean? We good. We straight too! What you talking about?
Game Four between the two teams tips off at 1:00 pm ET on Sunday.