4 key takeaways from Cavaliers Game 5, series-ending L to Knicks

Cedi Osman and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)
Cedi Osman and Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by David Richard-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Losing 4-1, the Cleveland Cavaliers season has come to a heartbreaking end at the hands of Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks. In Game 5, the Cavs fell 106-95 on their own home court.

This did not happen due to unforeseen circumstances or injury. In fact, it was the New York Knicks who won in the face of injuries after Julius Randle left the game right before halftime. In those two quarters without their second star, the Knicks managed to gain a lead as high as 18 surrounded by a hostile crowd.

Nothing in this loss can be pinned on any specific individual, so where did the Cavaliers go wrong? These are the four key takeaways from the Cavaliers’ final contest.

Takeaway No. 1: Rebounds matter

If somebody told you that Mitchell Robinson managed to grab more offensive rebounds than either of Cleveland’s big men grabbed in total rebounds, you would be waiting for the coming punch line. Sadly, the only punch in that statement is one that hits you in your metaphorical gut.

When Jarrett Allen was on the court, he guarded Mitchell Robinson. For the most part, he kept Robinson from scoring, but he wasn’t succeeding at keeping Robinson off the glass. It was not until the second quarter that Allen grabbed his first rebound, giving New York an early advantage on the boards that never dissipated. In total, Allen had four rebounds, only one in the entire second half. This limited rebounded production was a continued theme from the two previous games, too.

These kinds of lapses cannot happen or be accepted. Jarrett Allen has been a bright spot for the Cavs throughout the season, but his lackluster effort or willingness to get physical with the Knicks led to exhausting possessions in which the Knicks got chance after chance to score.

Evan Mobley ended the game with nine rebounds. He showed inconsistent effort, lacking the intensity needed from a player of Mobley’s potential. Mobley had little hustle tonight, seemingly not entirely grasping the stakes of the game. An early offseason after such a stellar season will hopefully push Mobley to the next level of mental intensity.

The Cavaliers bigs will need to spend plenty of time with Cleveland’s coaching staff to take these failures and learn from them. They are young, talented players, but this team has higher aspirations than first round exits. For that to be realized, the Frohio duo will be a crucial factor.

Rebounding matters. Every game of this series, the team that grabbed more rebounds won the game.