CLEVELAND (WJW) – After five years, the Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the playoffs. But Saturday’s game didn’t end the way they wanted.
In Round 1, on their home court at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the No. 4 Cavs faced off against the No. 5 New York Knicks, ultimately falling short against their opponents in the first game.
In the first quarter, with Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski watching intently from a choice seat, the Cavs started out strong.
But ultimately, they were not able to hold onto a lead and the first quarter ended at Knicks up 30-24.
The rest of the half, the Cavs played from behind. The end of the half saw the Knicks end with 50 over the Cavs’ 45. The packed Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse stayed loud the entire time, booing much of what the refs had to say.
Bigtime New York Knicks fan, director Spike Lee, was also in attendance, riling people up around him, the only way he knows how.
While the Cavaliers were able to tie the score multiple times during the third quarter, they were ultimately unable to take the lead and the end of the 12 minutes, the score ended at 78-70, Knicks up. This left one more quarter for the Cavs to make a come back.
With about five minutes left in the game, the fans were asked to continue cheering; to believe in their team. And the Cavs listened to the fans on their feet, even taking the lead for a short while, before the Knicks once again took over.
The final score ended at 101-97.
After just missing a playoffs bid last season, this is the first time the Cavs have made it to postseason since 2018 and the first time without LeBron James since 1998.
The Cavs finished the regular season 51-31 after a 95-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets last weekend.
Four-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, who helped push the Cavs to the playoffs, will be facing his hometown team.
“Full-circle moment.” Mitchell told The Associated Press Friday. “This year has been full of full-circle moments for me.”
The Knicks beat the Cavs in the regular season series 3-1.
After missing the last six games of the regular season for a knee injury, defensive stopper Isaac Okoro took part in practice Thursday and will likely be ready to play in Saturday’s matchup.
Find the schedule for the first four games of the Cavs-Knicks best-of-seven series here.