After a disappointing outing in Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers responded in Game 2 versus the New York Knicks just how the doctor, being Cavs fans, ordered. Cleveland came out with much more energy in the beginning of the game, and in the second quarter, began to pull away and take charge in the contest.
At halftime, the Cavaliers were up 59-39 after a 34-17 advantage in the second stanza, and for much of the game, had a comfortable lead. In the game, Cleveland had more productive ball and man movement it seemed throughout, and defense and hustle plays got the team going.
On Tuesday night, the Cavs’ defensive pressure was a constant, as were the multiple effort plays. Cleveland registered 10 steals, and while the Cavs did have 17 turnovers, New York had only 16 assists to 17 turnovers.
By and large, the Wine and Gold were the aggressors in Game 2, were much more on-point on the glass and as a connective team on both ends. That was a stark contrast to Game 1, when the Knicks’ efforts on the glass, hustle and crucial shot-making in big spots led to their road win then on Saturday.
What arguably stole the show in Tuesday’s 107-90 win for the Cavaliers over the Knicks, though, was the bounce-back game for Darius Garland. After an underwhelming Game 1 which most notably involved him having only one assist and five turnovers, and him passive too often as a shooter, Garland came out firing in Game 2, and sparked the home team.
He had 32 big points for Cleveland, with 26 of those coming in the first half. He didn’t have it going nearly as much after halftime, but he was only in for 4:39 in the fourth quarter, and Garland’s facilitating was still impactful in the third quarter, and then he did hit two threes.
Perhaps more than anything, it was great to see Garland respond so well, and he could carry Tuesday’s performance forward.
DG the 3G was on full display for the Cavs, and he can really get rolling after that sort of explosion.
Garland only attempted four more shots than in Game 1, amounting to him taking 17 in Game 2. Having said that, in the first half, he was far from bashful, and it paid off in a sizeable way for the Cavaliers, as we alluded to, based on Cleveland’s 20-point lead going into halftime on Tuesday night.
His license to burn in the first half led to Garland having those aforementioned 26 first half points, and in that time, he shot six-of-10 from the field, and shot four-of-six on three-point attempts. Garland’s first half binge also placed him in rarified air in Cavs playoff history, alongside legends LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
Garland was only two-of-seven shooting in the second half, but he did go two-of-four from deep, and he and Donovan Mitchell were dropping dimes, en route to four for Garland and five for Mitchell after halftime. Both had seven and 13 (a career-high for Mitchell) in the dominant Game 2 W for the Cavaliers, and as we mentioned, Garland didn’t play much in the fourth quarter with the game in hand.
During and after Cleveland’s Game 2 victory, anyways, it was especially satisfying to watch Garland let the shots fly earlier to jumpstart this Wine and Gold group. He expressed in his postgame media availability how his teammates were telling him to shoot the rock, and seemingly the coaching staff, and the results followed on Tuesday night. DG “let the clip go,” and it led to success.
Yesterday’s performance was another reminder of how talented Garland is as a well-versed scorer, and how often when he is assertive, the whole team feeds off that.
DG the PG, or DG the 3G, as I like to call him, was out in full on Tuesday night, and the Cavs need him to stay aggressive from here. After that last performance, one should expect him to be, and Game 2’s explosion could help him get on a roll in this series against the Knicks, and hopefully, lead to more big-time outings from there in a deep playoff run.
This isn’t to say Garland won’t have his playmaking hat in the same light, but when he’s out there letting it go, it can clearly elevate the whole team, and others can benefit off that.