The Cleveland Cavaliers will meet the New York Knicks in the 4-5 matchup in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs. The Cavaliers finished the season 51-31, while the Knicks ended with a 47-35 record. Both teams had been locked into this spot for a few games and decided to give their players some additional rest, so those records could’ve possibly been better if both teams had something left to play for.
The Cavaliers took a big jump from playoff hopefuls to fringe contenders with the offseason addition of Donovan Mitchell. Cleveland was not initially considered a potential destination for the shooting guard but he has elevated this team offensively. Mitchell’s playoff exploits are well known, and Cleveland’s supporting cast is capable of making big plays in big moments. There aren’t too many expectations but the Cavaliers would like to win this series to show they are on the right track towards title contention.
The Knicks, considered the favorites to land Mitchell at one point, got Jalen Brunson in free agency. It was considered a risky signing at the time but it has worked out well for New York. Brunson has taken this team forward, while Julius Randle maintained his stellar play from a season ago. Randle is dealing with an ankle injury and his status for this series is uncertain. R.J. Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Mitchell Robinson form a competent supporting cast that has potential to grow. The Knicks would like to win this series, but this will be more about putting up a good fight and showing the fans they are finally moving in a good direction as a franchise.