Prior to the Cavaliers’ lopsided victory against the New York Knicks in Game 2 on Tuesday night, Coach J.B. Bickerstaff delivered a loud and clear message to the team.
The Cavaliers needed to boost their aggressiveness, tenacity, and rebounding in order to recover from their loss in Game 1.
Bickerstaff stated just before tip-off, “If we are not more physical, if we do not hit first, we are not going to give ourselves a fair chance. “We won’t give ourselves a chance if we let them continue to take it out on us. Hence, that is the change we must make.
The best-of-seven series is now tied at one game each after the Cavaliers won convincingly by a score of 107-90 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Thursday. Game 3 will now take place in Madison Square Garden on Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Point guard Darius Garland, who had a game-high 32 points, became the face of Cleveland’s far more aggressive strategy. Garland made 6 of 10 3-pointers while shooting 8 of 17 from the field overall.
Cleveland took a 59-39 advantage into halftime thanks to Garland’s 26 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field in the first half, and Cleveland controlled the game the rest of the way. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are the only players in franchise history to have as many points in a half of a playoff game, which helps to put Garland’s first half into perspective.
Caris LeVert, the Cavaliers’ sixth man, also improved after Game 1, scoring 24 points to help his team gain a 36-28 advantage in bench points.
For the Cavaliers, All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell contributed 17 points and a game-high 13 assists. A game-high 13 rebounds and 13 points from forward Evan Mobley helped Cleveland have a dominant performance.
The Knicks, who were led in scoring by All-Star power forward Julius Randle (22 points) and guard Jalen Brunson, finished with 36 rebounds to the Cavaliers’ 43. (20 points).
Four times during the regular season and once during the playoffs, the Knicks have outrebounded the Cavaliers. In Game 1, the Knicks won 101-97 thanks to a 51-38 rebounding advantage, including a 17-11 advantage on the offensive glass.
The Cavs put up a better fight this night, earning much-needed atonement.
Hawks 106, Celtics 119
BOSTON, Mass. The Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks 119-106 on Tuesday night to grab a 2-0 series lead. Jayson Tatum led the way with 29 points and a thunderous slam to conclude a game-winning late surge.
Jaylen Brown scored 18 points, while Derrick White contributed 26 points and seven rebounds. In the paint, Boston defeated Atlanta 64 to 40.
With 29 points, Dejounte Murray led the Hawks, and Trae Young added 24.
Friday night in Atlanta is Game 3.
Late in the third quarter, the Hawks reduced their 20-point deficit to just ten.
Young sat out the final 7:07 of the period while Atlanta trailed 74-57 and momentarily entered the locker room.
Without him, his teammates continued the momentum, outscoring the Celtics 24-16 to cut the deficit to nine going into the fourth quarter, 90-81.
Young came back to start the final session, and with just over five minutes remaining, he scored four straight points to increase the score to 104-95.
A 3-pointer and a dunk by Tatum bookended a 15-2 spree by the Celtics in response, raising the score to 119-97 with 2:16 remaining.
(AP) PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 123-109 in Game 2 of the Western Conference first-round series on Tuesday night, with Devin Booker scoring 38 points and Kevin Durant contributing 25.
After a heartbreaking setback in Game 1, the Suns made a valiant effort. They struggled to make shots for the majority of the first half, and by the halfway point of the second quarter, they were down by 12 points.
But under Booker’s leadership, they never froze.
The three-time All-Star tied it with a 3-pointer just before the halftime horn and added 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the third to help the Suns increase their lead to 92-87 heading into the fourth.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Phoenix never trailed and gradually extended their lead.