The deeper and tougher Knicks had little trouble overpowering and vanquishing the Cavaliers in the end, even with negligible contributions for most of the first round from their lone All-Star.
One game after Julius Randle had been benched for the entire fourth quarter of Sunday’s win at Madison Square Garden, he re-injured his left ankle late in the second quarter and didn’t play in the second half.
And Tom Thibodeau’s gritty squad absorbed every punch once more and prevailed yet again.
Jalen Brunson finished with a team-high 23 points and Obi Toppin filled in ably for Randle in the second half as the Knicks dispatched the Cavs in five games, finishing them off without their leading scorer for the final two quarters of a series-sealing 106-95 victory Wednesday night at a silenced Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Thibodeau and the Knicks deservedly will make the franchise’s first trip to the second round of the playoffs since 2013 and only their second since 2000.
RJ Barrett capped a strong final three games of the series with 21 points on 7-for-13 shooting, and Josh Hart started in place of Quentin Grimes again and registered 12 rebounds in 47 heartbeat minutes, including the entire second half.