The bright lights of New York and the ear-splitting noise of the Madison Square Garden completely drained the life out of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Game 3, crumbling in pressure against the Knicks who posted a robust 99-79 Friday beatdown.
Main man Donovan Mitchell was the only bright spot who emerged out of the hopeless Cavs squad. He finished with 22 points but was also swarmed by the suffocating New York defense, limiting him to 9-for-19 shooting.
Mitchell’s frustration in Cleveland’s struggle throughout the game was caught during the third period, calling out his entire squad. But in postgame, he made it known that it was just a motivational and leadership move to fire up his teammates.
“Just the physicality. … Just trying to light the fire,” said Mitchell in the motives of his bench rant. “It was rough, abrasive, scrappy game and obviously shots weren’t falling. But I think the biggest thing is we just try to find a way to fight at that end.
“That’s all I was really doing. Leadership comes in different forms.”
With the loss, Mitchell and the Cavaliers now have their backs against the walls moving forward against the Knicks. As Game 4 is set on Sunday, they can only hope to deliver a bounce back game and evade a distressing 3-1 hole heading back to Cleveland.