Rose appeared on the network’s “Get Up” morning program and offered his reasoning why the Cavaliers will emerge from what figures to be a challenging matchup.
“The good news for the Knicks is that they’re in the playoffs,” Rose said. “Another great thing for the Knicks and their fans that they’re celebrating being a fifth seed. My namesake Jalen Brunson has brought a stability at the point guard position.
“But here’s the problem. They’re not gonna have home-court advantage in the first round versus the Cleveland Cavaliers and Donovan Mitchell. I usually like to pick the team in a series that: A, has the best player, Cavs; B, has home-court advantage, Cleveland. So, I don’t wanna be a buzzkill for the New York Knicks, but if they play the Cavs in the first round, I think, Cleveland, this is for you, and they advance.”
Rose’s closing line recalled the iconic words of former Cavs superstar LeBron James, who in the immediate aftermath of the team’s 2016 NBA title, used that same expression.
Some observers are already inclined to choose the Knicks over the Cavs, such as current ESPN broadcaster Jeff Van Gundy, who once served as head coach for the Knicks.
“I think their best chance would be to play against Cleveland in the first round,” Van Gundy said recently to the New York Post. “They’d still be a big underdog there, but I think they’d have a puncher’s chance.”
Some of those pundits choosing the Knicks may be basing their opinion on the head-to-head matchups between the two teams. In three of the four contests this season, the Knicks emerged with a victory, most recently last Friday in a 130-116 win in Cleveland.
In that offensive shootout last Friday, the aforementioned Brunson delivered a strong performance that included a career-high 48 points. Within that point total were seven 3-pointers, with Brunson also adding nine assists and four rebounds.
Keeping Brunson in check during the postseason will obviously be a priority for the Cavaliers, who have generally played solid defense this season.
That Knicks win last Friday caught the attention of Mitchell, who has delivered MVP-worthy numbers all season. He noted that the referees officiated the contest as if it were a playoff matchup.
Mitchell has also indicated that he’s eager to face the Knicks in the postseason. Prior to being dealt to the Cavaliers last year, talk of a rumored trade to the Knicks surfaced.
Performing at a high level against a top media market would only enhance Mitchell’s image on the court. While he undoubtedly wants to deliver on an individual level, he’d be happy to accept simply winning the series and moving on.