Despite a tremendous individual performance by Donovan Mitchell, the Cleveland Cavaliers were bested by the New York Knicks on their home floor in Game 1 of this best-of-seven quarterfinal series. Though they managed to take the lead at around the two-minute mark in the fourth period, the Knickerbockers proved to be resilient in their hunt for an upset and, ultimately, came away with the 101-97 win.
While there proved to be many factors in Cleveland’s ultimate demise on the night, during his post-game media session head coach J.B. Bickerstaff highlighted what he believes to be the ultimate reason for their Game 1 loss: poor effort on the defensive glass.
“We have to be more physical. It’s that simple,” Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “In the second half they got back almost half their misses. You give yourself a chance in the fourth quarter, but you continue to give up offensive rebounds and give them second chances, third chances, you’re going to have a hard time beating them. They’re a good team. Our defense I thought did a great job most of the night. But if you continue to give them opportunities, they’ll find a way.
“This is going to be the story of this series. Can we limit them on the offensive glass? If we can’t, we’re going to have a hard time winning. If we can, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
J.B. Bickerstaff’s sentiment certainly rings true, both based on the eye test as well as the final box score itself.
The Cavs were outrebounded 51 to 38 on the night and gave up a whopping 17 offensive boards in total. In the pivotal fourth quarter, the Knicks pulled down seven offensive rebounds and, in the end, saw star Julius Randle snatch down a clutch board off a Jalen Brunson miss with less than nine seconds remaining that led to the game-sealing free throws by Quentin Grimes.