Turnovers and lack of hustle continue to plague Cavaliers in Game 4

Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports)
Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports) /

After a hard fought regular season to secure home court advantage in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled mightily against the New York Knicks. Entering into Sunday’s Game 4 matchup, the Cavaliers were down 2-1 in the series, looking to even the odds and reclaim home court advantage going into Game 5.

Unfortunately, the Cavs failed to correct their shortcomings that cost them Game 3, struggling to score from three on open attempts and committing unnecessary turnovers. In the end, the Cavaliers fell in New York 102-93, leaving themselves in a precarious spot as the series returns to Cleveland.

Turnovers and a lack of hustle continued to plague the Cavs in Game 4.

Only so much can be done when a team carelessly surrenders the ball to their opponent time and time again. In Game 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost the ball 20 times and committed 12 turnovers in Game 4.

Donovan Mitchell committed half of the Cavs’ turnovers in Game 4, leading to a 3-1 series in favor of New York.

Mitchell has proven himself as a top tier playoff performer and will likely earn a spot on the All-NBA roster this year, but his ability to showcase this has struggled in this series against the New York Knicks. As the leader for the new Cleveland Cavaliers era, this type of unwarranted performance is unacceptable.

The loss is hardly entirely Mitchell’s fault. Hustle is more than a movie starring Adam Sandler, but the Cavaliers have yet to show this consistently in this first round contest. Jarrett Allen displayed a lack of effort on the boards, totaling only four rebounds and being out rebounded by both Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.

Cleveland’s inability to box out and grab rebounds allowed the New York Knicks to grab 17 total offensive rebounds, leading to 21 second chance points. Thus far in the series, the team winning the rebound battle has won in the final box score. In Game 4, the Knicks secured 14 more rebounds in total than Cleveland.

The lack of intensity by Cleveland’s roster and lackluster passing gave New York an insurmountable advantage, and now it is all but over for the Cavaliers if they cannot return to their Game 2 determination.

Darius Garland exploded to start the third quarter but quickly went quiet again when New York committed their defense toward shutting him down. Within the first four minutes of the second half, Garland brought the Cavs back into the game with a one-point lead. With his partner in crime Donovan Mitchell nonexistent in the game, the Knicks were able to suffocate everything Garland wanted to do. His efforts went unsupported.

The Cavaliers had the hustle in the second half, but their first half failures created too high of a hurdle. Evan Mobley and Garland were already in foul trouble, and the Knicks exploited this by pushing Mobley and Garland into unfavorable situations on defense.

With Game 5 coming back to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, it will be the perfect, and last, opportunity for the Cavs to bring themselves back from the dead. Going forward the Cavaliers will maintain home court advantage in two of the final three possible games in round one. In the chance the Cavaliers can tie the series 3-3 in the next two competitions, then they will have a serious advantage entering Game 7.

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A 3-1 comeback is nothing impossible in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but it can only happen when these weak points are answered promptly and constantly.