The New York Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs to continue their 2023 Playoff run. The New York Knicks won a playoff series for the first time in a decade. The Knicks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 on Wednesday, 106-95, to win their series 4-1. It’s also just their second series victory since 2000. New York led by as many as 18 in the third quarter, but Cleveland cut it to a six-point deficit with just over eight minutes to go, but that’s as close as they got. New York responded with a 6-0 run to get back up a dozen, and by the time Cleveland cut it to single digits again, it was too late.
New York had not won a playoff series since 2013 when they made it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. This year’s playoffs are the organization’s second appearance in the postseason since that time. In 2021, the Knicks fell to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in five games. It is only the second time in 23 years the team has advanced to the playoffs.
Jalen Brunson had 23 points in the win. Brunson struggled offensively on previous nights but showed his season-long leadership skills down the stretch. Brunson may be the best free agent signing of the NBA this season. The guard came to New York after spending his first four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks and put up the best numbers of his career. His 24.0 points, 41.6 three-point percentage, and 6.2 assists in the regular seasons were all career highs. He averaged 24.0 in the series as well.
Brunson spoke about what the series win meant for him. His father, Rick, played for the Knicks from 1999-2001. “I thought about that today. It’s a really cool experience, knowing that my dad played here,” Brunson told reporters after the game. “He didn’t lead that team, but he was on that team that got to the Finals. It’s really special.”
Ironically, the Knicks will meet the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs to rekindle a rivalry that sparked up during New York’s run to the NBA Finals in 1999. The two teams squared off in the first round, in which New York won in five games. Rick Brunson appeared in four games.
“The tradition of the Knicks, not only what it means to the city and the league,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have the best fans, best city, best arena. They respond to the way this team plays. It plays hard. It plays smart and it plays together.”
The victory did not come without a big blow, as Randle re-aggravated an ankle sprain that kept him out of the Knicks’ final five games of the regular season. Randle struggled this series, only averaging 14.8 points per game in the first four games (he had 13 points when he left the game in the second half). New York will have home-court advantage, and The Garden will undoubtedly be rocking for the Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.
Update, the Knicks lost to the Miami Heat 108 to 101 in game 1 of the playoffs on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden in New York)