In what very well could've been a first-round playoff preview, the New York Knicks defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, 130-116, behind a career-high 48 points from Jalen Brunson.
This marks the fifth 40-point game of the season for Brunson, whose highest regular-season scoring output in four years with the Mavericks was 34. He has matched or topped that number 11 times already in his first season with New York.
JALEN BRUNSON CAREER NIGHT 🗣️— NBA (@NBA) April 1, 2023
48 PTS (career-high)
Brunson dissected the league's best defense from the jump. Yes, the Cavs were without Jarrett Allen, but New York was without Julius Randle, whose absence forced Brunson, who is starting to make a real case for an All-NBA spot, into overdrive.
If this was a first-round preview, the Knicks (44-33) hanging 130 points on the Cavs (48-29) without Randle would bode well for their chances of pulling an upset, if you would even call what would be a 4-5 matchup an upset.
Donovan Mitchell did all he could to keep Cleveland in range with 42 points. It was Mitchell 11th 40-point game of the season, which is a Cavaliers single-season record. Brunson and Mitchell became the first opponents this century to each score at least 20 points in a single quarter.
In the 1st Quarter…— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) April 1, 2023
23 PTS - 90% FG - 75% 3P
21 PTS - 72% FG - 50% 3P
The Knicks need just one more win to clinch a playoff spot. The only way they could fall into the play-in would be if their lose their final four games and wind up in a three-way tie with the Nets and Heat.