The New York Knicks are headed to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in 10 years after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 106-95 on Wednesday night in Game 5 of their first-round series.
As was the case throughout the series, Knicks guard Jalen Brunson led the way for a hungry young team that had control of the game all night. Brunson scored 23 points to go with four assists and four rebounds and repeatedly made big plays when the Knicks needed one.
New York didn’t escape their series with the Cavs scot free, however. Star forward Julius Randle was forced leave Game 5 after injuring his left ankle during the closing minutes of the first half, and he never returned.
Knicks, Nets, Rangers, Islanders & Devils make playoffs in same season for first time in 29 years
March Madness may be over but New York sports fans are set for a spring to remember. The NBA’s New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets, and NHL’s New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils all make the playoffs in the same season, a feat that hasn’t happened in 29 years.
After the New York Islanders clinched a postseason berth with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, April 12th, to snag the final Eastern Conference Wild Card spot up for grabs. Yes you heard me, all five local hockey and basketball teams (if you include the New Jersey Devils) have made the playoffs in the same season for the first time in 29 years.
The last time a New York team in any of the four major sports won a championship, was Sunday Feb. 5, 2012, when the Giants defeated the New England Patriots Super Bowl XLVI, which was the best birthday gift a brother could ask for.
The most successful collective winter sports season since 1994 offers an increased chance of ending the Big Apple’s sizable championship drought. The year was 1994 it was remembered fondly by New York sports fans despite that was the summer in which the baseball season was canceled. The year was still remembered fondly in Gotham City — and that is saying something. The world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden hosted the Stanley Cup Final, as the Rangers broke a 54-year championship drought, and the NBA Finals, as the Knicks lost in seven games to the Rockets – the best chance they had to win in that era, since Michael Jordan retired and decided to play baseball after his father died.
It’s a good time to be a sports fan in New York City, We’re Gonna Party like it’s 1994
No less than three intracity playoff series took place that year. The Rangers beat the Islanders in the first round before a classic Game 7 win over the Devils in the conference finals. In the NBA, the Knicks, beat the Nets in the first round. In the past calendar year, the Jets are the only NY or NJ team in all 6 major sports that didn’t make the playoffs. The Giants, Bills, Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Devils, Islanders, Knicks, Nets, Liberty, Redbulls and NYCFC all made the playoffs. I don’t mean to beat up on Jets fans, it’s really just amazing that all those other teams made the playoffs in the same year.
The basketball postseason got off to a rocky start for the Nets, who traveled to Philadelphia to take on the heavily favored 76ers Saturday. The Sixers blew them out 121-101 and ended up sweeping them 4-0, Grand opening, grand closing.
But their crosstown rivals, the New York Knicks, pulled out a tight win in Cleveland a few hours later. The Knicks with Ossining High School graduate beat the Cavaliers — led by Mamaroneck native and super Mets baseball fan Donovan Mitchell — 101-97, stealing home court. Then Julius Randle took a hard tumble to the court late in game two but appeared to avoid injury in a 17-point blowout New York Knicks loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In game three the Knicks returned the favor, holding the Cavs to just 79 points as defended their home court.
Jalen Brunson scored 29 points, RJ Barrett had 26 and the New York Knicks took a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first-round series with a 102-93 victory in game four. Josh Hart moved into the starting lineup and added 19 points and seven rebounds for the fifth-seeded Knicks.
For the first time in a decade, the New York Knicks are advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Knicks capped off their series victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 106-95 victory in Game 5 and will face No. 8 Miami Heat in the second round on Sunday, April 30th. The Heat knocked off the No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks.
As he has throughout the series, Jalen Brunson led the way for the Knicks in the closeout win over the Cavs. The star guard tallied 23 points, four assists and four rebounds, while R.J. Barrett added 21 points, four rebounds and four assists of his own. Immanuel Quickley also had 19 points off of the bench for New York.
Cleveland’s backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland combined for 49 points, but their production ultimately wasn’t enough to extend Cleveland’s campaign. After a promising regular season, the Cavs will now be tasked with improving their roster over the offseason.
The last time the Knicks advanced to the second round was during the 2012-13 season. Mike Woodson was the coach of the team at that time, and Carmelo Anthony was the leading scorer. That team lost to the Pacers in six games in the conference semis. The Knicks haven’t advanced to the conference finals since 1999.
Knicks close out Cavaliers to win first playoff series since 2013, but Julius Randle’s health a concern
Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle aggravated a left ankle injury late in the first half of Game 5. Randle, who missed the final five games of the regular season and has been slowed in the playoffs, went down with 1:17 left in the half and the Knicks leading by double digits. He didn’t play in the second half as the Knicks closed out the Cavs, 106-95, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
After trying to block Caris LeVert’s jumper, Randle landed awkwardly and stayed on the floor for a few minutes while being checked by medical staff. He was helped to his feet but defiantly walked off the floor and headed to the locker room for treatment at halftime. Randle returned to the bench area in street clothes early in the fourth quarter to see if the Knicks could close out the seven-game series.
Obi Toppin started the second half in place of Randle, who scored 13 points with four rebounds and six assists in 16 minutes before getting hurt. Toppin had a quick seven points in the first three minutes of the third quarter. He scored 12 points in the period, playing all 12 minutes.
The Knicks announced at halftime that Randle was doubtful to return to Game 5, and the broadcast spotted him in street clothes at the start of the fourth quarter. He did not return to the contest and after the game, head coach Tom Thibodeau said the team will know more on Thursday.
“It would be premature for me to comment,” said Thibodeau, adding that Randle will be re-examined on Thursday. “We’re hopeful that it’s not bad.”
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more updates as they become available.