The New York Knicks completed the MSG-sweep of Cleveland with a stout 102-93 win on Sunday.
Tom Thibodeau made an incredible decision that could very well be credited as the deciding and game-changing choice that lifted New York above the Cavs to wrap up the weekend: he benched Julius Randle for the whole fourth quarter.
Randle played 77 regular-season games this year. He sat through a fourth quarter just eight times, once because of his season-ending ankle injury against the Heat on March 29. Obi Toppin, his replacement on Sunday, played only 14 minutes in Games 1 and 2, 15 in G2, and, finally, 20 in G4 to send Cleveland home packing.
“We were searching, and we knew this game was going to be a challenge because of the late game on Friday, short turnaround, early start today, and have to find a way to win,” Thibodeau said. “That group got going, so at some point, you make a decision—probably around the five-minute mark, six-minute mark—and rode that out.”
And rode that out they did on the way to another W, the third in this series and the second-to-last before clinching a place in the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the first time since 2013.