The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the 2023 NBA playoffs with high hopes. They finished the 2022-23 season with one of the best point differentials in the league, and on paper, it looked like they had a talent advantage over the New York Knicks, their first-round matchup. But as Jarrett Allen and company learned the hard way, games are not played on paper, as the Knicks went on to convincingly win the series in five games.
Worryingly, it was the Cavs’ much-ballyhooed frontcourt of Allen and Evan Mobley that shrunk when it mattered most. Knicks center Mitchell Robinson thoroughly outplayed the two, particularly on the glass, as the Knicks outworked the Cavs in every imaginable way.
While the responsibility for the Cavs’ playoff defeat definitely doesn’t fall on Jarrett Allen’s shoulders alone, the 6’11 center is one of the few featured players on the roster with playoff experience to speak for. Thus, it was especially troubling when Allen admitted that he couldn’t handle the postseason pressure.
“Even for me, the lights were brighter than expected,” Allen said, per Danny Cunningham of ESPN.
In particular, Jarrett Allen knows that he played a “starring” role in the Cavs’ inability to control the boards, which ultimately led to their premature playoff demise at the hands of the Knicks.
“[I shoulder] quite a bit [of blame]. That’s my job to get rebounds. That’s my job to box people out,” Allen added.
Alas, Allen is only 25, and the rest of the Cavs’ core players are still young (Donovan Mitchell is 26, Darius Garland is 23 and Evan Mobley is 21), so chalk this one up to a necessary, if painful, experience that should mold them into more resolute playoff performers.