The Cleveland Cavaliers played their worst basketball game of the season on Friday evening, getting blown out 99-79 by the New York Knicks in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden. That was the first time in 2022-23 any team scored fewer than 80 points in a single game. In other words, the Cavs were downright atrocious offensively, despite holding their opponent to under 100 points for the 30th time.
Consistency has been an issue all campaign long for JB Bickerstaff’s squad, who will be looking to bounce back in a big way Sunday afternoon in the Big Apple. Below, we’ll take a look at the four players most to blame for this forgettable performance.
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We have to start with Darius Garland. Just days after showing out 32 points at home, the guard came out and looked invisible at MSG. Garland registered a mere 10 points on 4 for 21 shooting from the field (19%) and 1 for 7 from three-point land (14.3%). The 23-year-old finished with a -21 rating overall. Garland started off cold, missing his first eight shots, and never recovered. Whether it was the hostile environment at Madison Square Garden or just simply an off night, the Cavs won’t win this series if Garland doesn’t step up. Sure, the Knicks played respectable defense on him but he also had lots of open looks. They just weren’t landing.
Yes, Mitchell led the Cavs with 22 points in the defeat and shot just under 50% from the field. But he wasn’t himself, either. Spida committed six of Cleveland’s 20 turnovers and missed a lot of good looks as well. A lot of his mishaps were costly as well. Plus, Mitchell was a -19. The superstar has been solid so far in the series but in his first game back at a place where many believe he’d be playing, the former Jazz guard failed to show up. After all, Mitchell is the main man on this roster. He must lead by example early on and get the Cavs going. It’s crucial. Knowing him, Game 4 could be a big one.
Jarrett Allen averaged 14.3 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists during the regular season. He is typically an important player for the Cavs. But in Game 3, he lacked aggressiveness. In 36 minutes, Allen had just six points and five rebounds. Cleveland barely lost the battle on the boards, but Allen wasn’t imposing his will enough, especially offensively. Evan Mobley only had 10 points too, which means the Twin Towers didn’t make a huge impact from a scoring standpoint. Allen was getting pushed around by Mitchell Robinson. He looked timid. The big man has to come out Sunday and let Robinson know he’s there to compete.
John Patrick Postrado ·
The Entire Bench
Once again, the Cavs bench struggled. They were outscored 39-14 by New York’s second unit. That’s a big problem. Cedi Osman posted a goose egg in 16 minutes. Isaac Okoro added seven points in 12 minutes of playing time. Danny Green and Ricky Rubio didn’t score a single basket. On a night when the first unit was so bad, Cleveland needed their supporting cast to step up. That didn’t happen.
The Cavs now have a sense of what it’s like to play at the Basketball Mecca in the playoffs. It was a learning curve. Now, it’s time to come out in Game 4 and find a rhythm early. If they don’t, Cleveland could be looking at a concerning 3-1 hole heading back home.