Cavaliers win first playoff game without LeBron James since 1998
from Eric Smithling, with YardBarker.com/www.yardbarker.com
Cleveland evened up its series against New York in a blowout 107-90 win on Tuesday, winning its first playoff game without LeBron James since 1998.
The Cavs respond in dominant fashion to tie the series ?? pic.twitter.com/skkspdWfAl
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 19, 2023
Darius Garland led the Cavs with 32 points, and Caris LeVert pitched in with 24 points off the bench. The two combined to shoot 10-of-19 from three.
The frontcourt of Jarrett Allen and Defensive Player of the Year finalist Evan Mobley combined for five steals and five blocks as the Knicks shot 36.7 percent from the field and 7-of-29 from beyond the arc.
A block on a Josh Hart drive in the paint early in the fourth by Mobley led to a LeVert layup and highlights how the Cavs were able to do whatever it wanted against the Knicks on Tuesday after a hard-fought Game 1.
Great defense leads to points on the opposite end of the court!#LetEmKnow | #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/Qt2CidQOKD
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 19, 2023
For the Cavs, the win is the latest symbol of the organization emerging from James’ enormous shadow.
It had been nearly 25 years since the Cavs last won a playoff game without James. Shawn Kemp led Cleveland with 32 points in an 86-77 win on April 27, 1998, before the team lost the best-of-five series 3-1.
James was responsible for the most successful years in franchise history — including an NBA title in 2016 — but for the first time since he entered the league, Cleveland has proved it can win without him.
After an unexpected run to the play-in tournament last year, the Cavs made the huge trade for Donovan Mitchell before the start of this season, and it immediately paid off. He was quiet in Game 2 on the stat sheet, but he still left his imprint on the game with 17 points and 13 assists, the last of which was a thing of beauty.
Donovan Mitchell with a DIME mid-flight ?
He's up to 13 assists… his most ever (playoff or regular season) pic.twitter.com/EGKHy02p64
— NBA (@NBA) April 19, 2023
The next goal for Cleveland is to win a series without James, something the franchise hasn’t done since the 1992-93 season. Per OddsChecker, the Cavs (-120) are slight favorites to reach the conference semifinals after Tuesday night’s dominant performance.