Recap Playoff Game 5 | Cavs Eliminated Lose 95 – 106

April 27, 2023

Andy Billman


Where was the Heart and Effort?

1 – Where was the heart?

In Cleveland, we pride ourselves on working hard, out-hustling our opponents, and fighting to the end.  The Cavs got out hustled, outworked and frankly showed more heart than the Cavs did in this series.   If you lose because of Michael Jordan going off, we get it, and it hurts to lose like that but to lose to a lack of effort is unacceptable.  UNACCEPTABLE! It was the tone of the series by the end, and it is what makes the offseason such a downer after what was a feel-good regular season. 

2 – New York controlled the paint and the rebounding disparity 

For most of the series, it was a race track for the Knicks to get any rebounds they needed on the offensive glass.  Robinson, for the Knicks, destroyed Allen and made Mobley feel invisible. And then, to break the backs of the Cavs, Hart would come in certain moments and grab rebounds as a shooting guard.  This broke the Cavs mentally in this series, and there are multiple other issues to discuss, but I have never seen such a dominant performance by one team over another like this in the paint. 

3 – Brunson and Hart win the war of guards over Mitchell and Garland

Brunson played better than Mitchell in this series, and Brunson is the better player overall compared to Mitchell.  It hurts to admit this as a Cavs fan for how much I love Mitchell, but it is obvious after this series.  The Cavs needed Mitchell to carry the club in moments, and outside of game one, it did not come close to happening.  And because of the rebounding from Hart, I think Hart outplayed Mitchell as well.  UGH.  

For Mitchell, this is going to be a hard off-season.  It is one thing to lose, but the Cavs were dominated, and Mitchell is the face of the franchise. We are going to learn next season if the Cavs really have a top-ten player in hand.  

As for Garland, he had some stretches when he played well, like in game two and in game four in the second half, but overall he struggled to keep up with Brunson and Hart.   

The Cavs consider themselves to have two-star guards, yet, the Cavs got outplayed by the Knicks guards in the playoffs; yikes.

4 – Jarrett Allen

I believe Jarrett Allen is a good man, who is good for the Cleveland community, and Allen was a 2022 Reserve all-star, so he has proven he is a good player in this league.  And then the 2023 NBA Playoffs happened, and Allen had a terrible series.  Not bad, terrible.  Allen’s one main job is controlling the paint on the defensive end, and Allen got manhandled by the Knicks.  He looked defeated in this series by the end, and his terrible play defensively, along with a lack of rebounding, I believe, brought the Cavs down as well.  Allen, in 76 minutes of play in games four and five had eight rebounds; that is unacceptable.  He also, in an elimination game at home, only got four points total.  If you want to play Scapegoat, and the Cavs have numerous reasons they lost, so there is no Scapegoat, in my opinion, then Allen gets the award.

5 – JB Bickerstaff

A lot of fans will blame Bickerstaff for the failure of the Cavs to not make it out of the first round, and I do agree with some of it.  Bickerstaff lack of adjustments in-game or, frankly, in the series was alarming.  The Cavs, out of timeouts all season long, were one of the worst in the league with a lack of edge and, on some occasions, ended in an unacceptable turnover.  The lack of effort and heart certainly can also be blamed on the coach.  Bickerstaff, at times, did look overwhelmed and hard-headed. He’s coming back to coach the Cavs next year, so hopefully, like the players, he will learn from this experience and do better in 2023-24. 

Game Summary

In a disappointing end to their playoff hopes, the Cleveland Cavaliers were eliminated from the first round of the NBA playoffs by the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. Despite entering the playoffs with high hopes and a 51-win regular season record, the Cavaliers couldn’t seem to get it together against the gritty Knicks team.

Throughout the series, the Cavaliers showed a lack of heart and passion, failing to match the intensity of their opponents on both ends of the floor. While they managed to win Game 2 at home, it was clear that they were overmatched by a Knicks team that played with more intensity and focus throughout the series.

The Knicks outrebounded Cleveland 227 to 186 in the five-game series, thanks in large part to Robinson. He outplayed Jarrett Allen, who was an All-Star this season and was seemingly always there to get a rebound or guard the basket.

Mitchell Robinson finished the game with 18 rebounds (11 offensive) to go along with 13 points, two steals, three blocks, and an assist in Wednesday’s win. It was the seven-footers’ second straight game with double-digit rebounds.

The Cavaliers’ top players, Donovan Mitchell, and Darius Garland, were unable to step up when it mattered most, and the team’s lack of toughness and physicality was exposed by the Knicks. The Cavaliers were outrebounded in all four losses, and the Knicks’ frontcourt dominated them on both ends of the floor.

Despite the disappointing result, the Cavaliers’ young core of players gained valuable experience in their first playoff appearance, and they’ll undoubtedly be motivated to come back stronger next season. Mitchell, in particular, will be looking to bounce back after a disappointing series, where he failed to deliver on his promise as a rising star in the league.

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