New York eliminates Cleveland to punch NBA Playoff semis ticket

The New York Knicks are through to the Eastern Conference semis (Nick Cammett/Associated Press)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The New York Knicks are back in the NBA Playoff semifinals since 2013 after eliminating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first round matchup, 106-95, last April 27, 2023.

This is one of the most convincing first-round performances of the Knicks in their entire franchise history after defeating the higher-seeded Cleveland squad in just five games.

Jalen Brunson continued his heroics for the Knicks after dropping 23 big points including four rebounds and four assists.

It was the crafty leftie guard who helped New York blitz to an early 33-26 lead after scoring 11 markers in just 10 minutes of action, answering every bucket that the Cavaliers put up in their highest-scoring quarter of the game.

Despite the loss of star forward Julius Randle who limped out of the locker room due to an ankle injury, the Knicks still kept their composure and stuck to their game plan of stopping the Cleveland offense with their patient half court defensive schemes.

From holding Cleveland to under 90 points during the past two games, New York’s defense stifled the Cavaliers again after limiting them to just 20 points in the crucial fourth quarter.

Mitchell Robinson, New York’s hardworking center, played one of his best games of the season after tallying 13 points and 18 rebounds.

In a nip-and-tuck final frame where Cleveland trimmed New York’s 15-point lead to just eight, Robinson’s offensive rebounding was the key factor in the last five minutes that helped the Knicks regain possession several times.

The backcourt duo of RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley also stepped up in the absence of Randle in the second half and drilled clutch baskets to combine for 40 points.

Despite a 28-point output from Donovan Mitchell, the Cavaliers still failed to flip the switch and never recovered after their disappointing Game 3 loss that trailed them 1-2 in the series.

With the stunning win, New York will next be facing Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals as the eighth-seeded squad completed the upset on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in just five games.