The Cleveland Cavaliers will meet the New York Knicks in the first round of the 2023 NBA playoffs, with Cleveland having homecourt advantage as the No. 4 seed. The Cavaliers continue to build on their previous successes with a young core, while the Knicks got back to the postseason after a disappointing 2021-22 season. Here’s a look at both teams heading into the series.
No. 4 Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Knicks
Head-to-head record: Knicks 3-1
Overall record: Cavaliers 51-31, Knicks 47-35
Leading scorer on Cavaliers: Donovan Mitchell
Leading scorer on Knicks: Julius Randle
Odds to win series: Cavaliers -185, Knicks +150
The Cavaliers seemed content to watch their young stars Darius Garland and Evan Mobley lead the team in 2022-23, but the opportunity to land Mitchell presented itself and the team jumped at it. The guard has been a proven playoff performer and gives this group an outside shot at knocking off one of the powers in the Eastern Conference. It’s been a while since Mitchell and the Cavaliers won a playoff series. Topping a pesky Knicks team which got the best of them in the regular season would make this campaign and the trade a success. The Cavaliers have title aspirations but a realistic goal would be to make the second round.
The Knicks are hoping Julius Randle, who suffered an ankle injury late in the year, will be back for this series. Even if Randle can return for part of the series, that’s a big boost. Jalen Brunson, the star free agent addition for New York, has elevated his game and this team. The Knicks have plenty of draft capital going forward and appear to have an attractive young core to entice star free agents. Winning a playoff series, something that hasn’t happened for New York since 2012-13, will be a huge lift for a franchise which appeared to be headed nowhere at the end of last year.