To say the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ season wasn’t supposed to end like this is an understatement.
Not just losing in the First Round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs but falling to the New York Knicks in five games despite entering the NBA Playoffs as the higher seed.
Suffice it to say, after celebrating their first postseason appearance without LeBron James since 1998 that the Cavs simply weren’t ready for the playoffs. They weren’t ready for the Knicks. They weren’t ready for the physicality and aggressiveness that a Tom Thibodeau-led team plays with.
Speaking to reporters following the disappointing ending to their 2022-23 campaign, Cavs center Jarrett Allen got straight to the point when discussing what went wrong for Cleveland in their First Round series (h/t Kelsey Russo of The Athletic):
“We all know the elephant in the room – the tyrannosaurus rex in the room – is the damn offensive rebounds. It’s just something that we felt like we could have done better. We could have gave a little more effort in.”
— Spencer Davies (@SpinDavies) April 27, 2023
The Knicks outrebounded the Cavs by a plus-41 margin, 227-186.
75 of their total rebounds that series came on the offensive end, as Knicks forward Josh Hart dominated the glass along with centers Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. In fact, Robinson pulled down 29 offensive boards, nearly double the amounts of Allen and Evan Mobley (who had 15 rebounds each).
For a New York team that saw Julius Randle clearly bothered by his ankle injury, it was impressive.
For a Cleveland team that should have been able to take advantage of the opportunity, especially with what many had considered one of the better big man tandems in the league, it was depressing.
As well as one of the major factors in why the Cavs failed.