Jalen Rose Issues Bold Take on Cavaliers’ Chances Versus Knicks in Playoffs

Donovan Mitchell Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Jalen Brunson of the New York Knicks drives past Donovan Mitchell of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

With just two games left in the regular season, the postseason is both nearing and coming into focus for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs are locked into a first-round matchup against the New York Knicks, which features more than a few juicy storylines.

The matchup projects to be a thrilling one on the floor, as well. The Knicks have the league’s fourth-best offense this season, led by Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. But the Cavaliers boast the NBA’s best defense on the season, anchored by Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

It’ll be a tough matchup for Cleveland, considering it will be almost everyone’s first meaningful playoff series. And ESPN’s Jalen Rose likes what he’s seen from the Knicks this season.

“The good news for the Knicks is that they’re in the playoffs,” Rose said on ESPN’s Get Up. “Another great thing for the Knicks and their fans that they’re celebrating being a fifth seed. My namesake Jalen Brunson has brought a stability at the point guard position.”

But Rose’s preference for the Cavs boils down to two key factors.

“But here’s the problem. They’re not gonna have home-court advantage in the first round versus the Cleveland Cavaliers and Donovan Mitchell. I usually like to pick the team in a series that: A, has the best player, Cavs; B, has home-court advantage, Cleveland. So, I don’t wanna be a buzzkill for the New York Knicks, but if they play the Cavs in the first round, I think, Cleveland, this is for you, and they advance.”

Off the floor, the matchup will be chock full of season-long storylines.

Donovan Mitchell Sends Message to Knicks

Once upon a time, Mitchell was largely expected to join his hometown Knicks via trade before Koby Altman swooped in to bring the All-Star to Cleveland. And make no mistake, the Cavaliers star knows what’s at stake in the “Mitchell Bowl.”

“It’s full circle. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Mitchell after scoring 42 points in a 130-116 loss to the Knicks. “What kid wouldn’t want to grow up and play against his hometown team in the playoffs?

“It’s a storybook [matchup],” Mitchell added. “It’s something that’s special and near and dear to me to be able to play playoff games in front of my friends and family. A team that I grew up watching. Against an assistant coach over there (Johnnie Bryant) who basically taught me everything I know at this point. It’s great, and I’m excited about the challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun if it happens.”

The Knicks, for their part, aren’t lacking for explosive guards, even if they missed out on the Mitchell sweepstakes.

Donovan Mitchell Praises Jalen Brunson

After Jalen Brunson scorched the Cavaliers for nearly 50 points last week, Mitchell couldn’t help but marvel at the guard’s performance.

“I’ve seen this for years. I saw the same thing last year,” Mitchell told reporters about Brunson’s night, per the Cavaliers’ official YouTube channel. “He’s just shifty. He can get to his spots, different ways.”

But even more impressive for Mitchell were Brunson’s assists:

“The biggest thing is he had [nearly] 50, but he had nine assists. That’s the standout. Fifty is great and it’s a lot of work to put in, but getting everybody else involved that’s what I took away the most.”

Mitchell, to his credit, is riding a four-game streak scoring 40-plus points per game.

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