New York Knicks second-year guard Quentin Grimes scored only five points in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs’ first round, but his last two at the free throw line with 4.3 seconds left sealed their 101-97 victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell tried to get in his head, but Grimes was up to the challenge. He didn’t flinch. Instead, he clapped back at Mitchell.
“He was just like he didn’t like the first one because it rattled in a little bit,” Grimes told SNY’s Ian Begley. “So I was like, ‘You will like this next one.’ I made sure I knocked down that, but I think the atmosphere will be even crazier in this second game. … It’s going to be a really fun game.”
Mitchell dropped a game-high 38 points but struggled when Grimes was defending him. According to NBA.com’s matchup tracker, Mitchell scored only six points on 1-of-6 shooting in 37.70 partial possessions with Grimes guarding him.
Grimes will have his hands full again against Mitchell in Game 2 on April 18, especially if Josh Hart misses time. Hart sustained a left ankle sprain and was a limited participant during the Knicks’ April 17 practice. He was Mitchell’s second main defender in Game 1.
Against Hart, Mitchell had 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting in 26.30 partial possessions, per NBA.com’s matchup tracker.
Josh Hart’s Game 2 Status Is Still up in the Air
Hart suffered an ankle sprain after awkwardly landing on teammate Julius Randle’s foot in a rebound attempt against Cavaliers’ big man Jarrett Allen, who tipped in Mitchell’s miss for a 93-92 lead with 2:12 left in Game 1.
Hart played through pain and sank the go-ahead 3-pointer after the injury occurred.
“Josh did some parts of the practice. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow,” New York coach Thibodeau said, via SNY. “Usually, with sprains like that, it’s more how you feel the next day. He said he felt fine in the game. We’ll see where he is tomorrow.”
Hart played an inspired game in his playoff debut, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. He also had two assists and one steal.
Hart was active on defense, contesting seven shots, the second most on the team behind starting center Mitchell Robinson’s 11.
If Hart cannot play in Game 2, Thibodeau could bring second-year guard Miles McBride off the bench to defend Mitchell when Grimes gets his rest. Immanuel Quickley, who played solid defense despite missing all of his five shots, could also get a crack at slowing down Mitchell.
Obi Toppin Expects Dogfight After Stealing Game 1
Obi Toppin played solid minutes off the bench with nine points, four rebounds and one assist in 14 minutes.
After air-balling his first attempt of the game, he got into a rhythm in the third quarter, scoring all of his points in a pivotal stretch that gave the Knicks an 11-point lead, 76-65.
“It’s gonna be a dogfight this whole series,” Toppin told reporters after Game 1. “Every game from now on until the Finals, every team, it’s gonna be a dogfight. Everybody wants to win, everybody is gonna do extra things to help their team. … We’re gonna bring that dog out every game.”