No Julius Randle for this match at Madison Square Garden and it is Obi Toppin who replaces him in the five major. The Cavaliers nevertheless take the best start, but the Fournier / Barrett duo responds.
New York yo-yos and even equalizes in the second quarter, but Tom Thibodeau’s troops will never pass in front… in the whole game. The gap is only +9 for the visitors (69-60) at halftime, but Darius Garland takes control of the game in the third quarter, and the Knicks sink.
No one is able to hold the leader of Ohio on the New York side, and the gap increases to +17 (102-85) after three quarters. Immanuel Quickley brings a little madness at the start of the fourth quarter to come back to 11 points (102-91) but the hope will be short-lived with Lauri Markkanen and Kevin Love who register precious baskets to validate the success of Cleveland. Who can therefore always hope to find the Top 6 in the East.
WHAT YOU MUST REMEMBER
– The Garland/Brown connection. Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley aren’t there but Darius Garland has found another partner on the pick-and-roll. Moses Brown thus took advantage of his caviars all evening to compile a nice double-double, with 16 points and 13 rebounds. His second in a row.
– The Knicks have never led. The Cavaliers took the entire game to Madison Square Garden. Granted, Cleveland is still playing for the highest ranking possible while New York is on vacation.
– Cleveland remains in ambush. With this 43rd victory, the Cavaliers remain in ambush behind Chicago and Toronto, in order to reintegrate the Top 6. The Bulls and the Raptors nevertheless have two more wins (and three losses less), but Cleveland has the “tiebreaker” on the Canadians. And that can count.
✅ Darius Garland. He can sometimes be on the edge of carrying or dribbling, but his way of manipulating defenses and his quick passing, on instinct, creates a lot for Cleveland. He finished the game with 24 points (8/19 but 5/9 from 3-pointers) and 13 assists.
✅ Isaac Okoro. We could also have mentioned Kevin Love, always valuable off the bench, but the energy and fighting spirit of Isaac Okoro (16 points) are really very valuable in Ohio.
✅ Obi Toppin. His game is sometimes quite messy, with this way of rushing with the shoulder, but his overflowing desire and his permanent desire to run open spaces and do good for an attack of the Knicks otherwise very stereotyped and too easy to control on placed game .
⛔ RJ Barrett. In the absence of Julius Randle, he had the keys to the New York attack but the Canadian did not find the way to the circle, although he very often tried to get closer to the circle. He thus finished with 12 points to a pitiful 4/18 in shooting, including 3/13 in the racket.
Cleveland (43-35): the Cavaliers host the Sixers tomorrow night
New York (34-44): the Knicks are in Orlando, also tomorrow night