Georges Niang assures Cavs won’t get punked again in playoffs: ‘Someone is gonna get put on their a–‘

3 Min Read
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

George Niang wasn’t around for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ playoff disappointment last season, but he is vowing that what happened in the first round last year isn’t going to happen to them again this time around.

“This season is a year where it’s not gonna be repeated as last year,” Niang said on “The Ryan Russillo Podcast.” “Where getting outphysicaled, outrebound, that’s no longer an option.

“Someone is gonna get put on their a– before they think they can just walk in the paint and continuously offensive rebound and try and outphysical us. That’s one thing that I think has been harped on since, God, September. So, now it’s just time to prove that. Let’s fast forward these 13 games.”

Following a 51-win regular season in the 2022-23 NBA campaign, the Cavs had high hopes entering the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Their stay did not last long, however, as they were eliminated by the New York Knicks in just five games.

The Knicks grabbed 75 offensive rebounds in the series, an average of 15.0 per game. Mitchell Robinson had 29 offensive rebounds for New York by himself.

It was a discouraging end, for sure, and the Cavs took steps this offseason to be better prepared, including adding Niang as a free agent in an effort to boost their offense. The Cavs shot just 44.9 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3-point range in the series against the Knicks.

This season, Niang is averaging 9.3 points per game while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 36.9 percent from 3-point range in his 69 appearances.

Likely motivated, at least in part, by their playoff shortcomings, the Cavaliers have fashioned an excellent season with less than a month left to go. Heading into their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, they are in third place in the Eastern Conference with a 43-26 record.

The Cavs won 18 out of 20 games shortly after the calendar year of 2024 began but have lost seven of their past 12 games and haven’t put together consecutive wins this month.

They are heading into the final stages of the season unsure about the status of star Donovan Mitchell, who is sidelined by a nasal fracture and a bone bruise in his knee. He reportedly is prioritizing being healthy for the playoffs.

It is an interesting balancing act to finish as high as they can in the standings while also being cognizant of the time Mitchell might need to get fully healthy. It could be another sign of the focus the Cavs are putting on avoiding another early exit from the playoffs.

Share This Article
Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.