The Cleveland Cavaliers bounced back from a disappointing loss in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks with a convincing 107-90 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
The Cavs tied the series at 1-1 and regained home-court advantage as they head to Madison Square Garden for Game 3 on Friday.
The star of the night for the Cavs was Darius Garland, who scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. Garland also added six assists, four rebounds and two steals in a stellar performance that showed why he was selected to his first All-Star team this season.
Garland was aggressive from the start, attacking the Knicks’ defense with his speed, ball-handling and shooting. He scored 14 points in the second quarter, when the Cavs outscored the Knicks 36-16 and built a 20-point halftime lead.
He also hit four clutch threes in the fourth quarter to keep the Knicks at bay and seal the win for the Cavs.
Garland’s aggressiveness was a welcome sight for the Cavs, who struggled to generate offense in Game 1. In that game, Garland had only 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting and was largely passive and tentative.
He also failed to make an impact as a playmaker, recording only three assists and four turnovers.
Garland admitted after Game 1 that he was nervous and overwhelmed by his playoff debut. He said he needed to be more confident and assertive in Game 2, and he delivered on his promise.
“I just had a different look in my eye,” Garland said after Game 2. “I knew I had to be more aggressive and help my team win. I didn’t play well in Game 1 and I felt like I let my team down.
I wanted to make up for it tonight and show what I can do.”.
Garland’s teammates and coaches praised his performance and his mindset. Donovan Mitchell, who had a near triple-double with 24 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, said he was proud of Garland’s growth and maturity.
“He was amazing tonight,” Mitchell said of Garland. “He was aggressive, confident, fearless. He made big shots, big plays, big stops. He was the best player on the floor tonight.
He showed a level of maturity that you don’t see often from young players in their first playoffs. He bounced back from a tough game and didn’t let it affect him.
He learned from it and got better.”.
Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Garland’s aggressiveness set the tone for the whole team and gave them an edge over the Knicks.
“He was phenomenal,” Bickerstaff said of Garland. “He was aggressive from the get-go and he never let up. He put pressure on their defense with his speed, his skill, his shot-making.
He also made great decisions with the ball and got his teammates involved. He played with a lot of poise and composure. He gave us a spark that we needed and he lifted us up.”.
The Cavs will need Garland to continue his aggressive play as they face a hostile crowd in New York for Game 3. The Knicks will be eager to bounce back from their Game 2 loss and reclaim the momentum in the series.
The Cavs will have to match their intensity and physicality, and Garland will have to lead the way with his scoring and playmaking. Garland said he is ready for the challenge and excited for the opportunity.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Garland said of playing in New York. “It’s going to be a great atmosphere, a great environment. It’s what you dream of as a kid, playing in big games like this on the big stage.
I’m not going to shy away from it. I’m going to embrace it and have fun with it.”.
Final Thoughts: Darius Garland Shines as Cavs Even Series Against Knicks
Darius Garland was the star of the show in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks. After a disappointing debut in the postseason, Garland bounced back in a big way, scoring a game-high 32 points on efficient shooting and leading his team to a convincing victory.
Garland’s performance was a testament to his growth and maturity as a player. He showed the confidence and assertiveness that are required to succeed in the playoffs, especially as a young player.
He was aggressive from the start, attacking the Knicks’ defense with his speed, ball-handling, and shooting.
Garland’s aggressive play set the tone for the whole team and gave them an edge over the Knicks. He not only scored but also made plays for his teammates, recording six assists and getting them involved in the offense.
He also played solid defense, recording two steals and disrupting the Knicks’ rhythm.
The Cavs will need Garland to continue his aggressive play in Game 3, as they face a hostile crowd at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks will be eager to bounce back and reclaim the momentum in the series.
Garland will have to lead the way with his scoring and playmaking and help his team match the intensity and physicality of the Knicks.
Overall, Garland’s performance in Game 2 was a statement of his potential as a player and a leader. He showed that he can handle the pressure of the playoffs and rise to the occasion.
If he continues to play like this, the Cavs will have a good chance of advancing in the postseason.