Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks playoff preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers have arrived in the NBA postseason for the first time since LeBron James was on the roster, and they're prepared to make a splash.
Why it matters: No longer spunky upstarts, the Cavs are now on the verge of legit title contention, with limited playoff experience the only thing separating them from the Eastern Conference's heaviest hitters.
Driving the news: The 4th-seeded Cavs will battle the 5th-seeded New York Knicks in the best-of-seven first-round series.
- Cleveland will host Games 1 and 2 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse 6pm Saturday and 7:30pm Tuesday.
- The Cavs will then travel to Madison Square Garden for Games 3 and 4 at 8:30pm April 21 and 1pm April 23.
- After that, we'll have to see.
State of play: The Cavs are an elite defensive unit anchored by big men Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, with star playmaking guards in Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell.
Yes, but: The Knicks are an offensive juggernaut, with point guard Jalen Brunson and power forward Julius Randle leading the charge.
- Combo guard Immanuel Quickley, who comes off the Knicks' bench, is a front-runner for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award.
Flashback: Both the Cavs and Knicks were in hot pursuit of Donovan Mitchell this past offseason. New York, in fact, was the presumptive favorite to land the former Utah Jazz phenom before Cleveland swooped in with a Godfather offer.
The intrigue: Cavs starting small forward Isaac Okoro, who has added a reliable three-point shot to his resume, missed the final six games of the season due to knee soreness.
- Why that matters: Okoro was a Brunson stopper in the regular season. The night Brunson scored an eye-popping 48 points against the Cavs in March, Okoro was sidelined.
- Both Okoro and the Knicks' all-star Randle are recovering from injuries and are questionable for Game 1.
By the numbers: The Cavs have faced the Knicks three times in the postseason, losing first-round matchups in 1978, 1995 and 1996.
💭 Sam's thought bubble: Not this time. Cavs in six.
- Mobley vs. the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo in round two has me salivating.
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