Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t pretty, but the Knicks got the job done in Cleveland and downed the Cavaliers in Game 1, 101-97.

Julius Randle returned in a spectacular fashion. Jalen Brunson overcame three fouls in the first half and finished with 27 points. An all-around team effort carried New York to a much-needed road win to start this series.

Add two clutch free throws from Quentin Grimes, and this was perfect high-intensity playoff basketball.

Some takeaways:

Willis Randle? This was a welcome surprise to start the series and Randle rewarded his team with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He looked great even on a minutes restriction. This was the best anyone could have hoped for after Randle sprained his ankle last month and missed the last five regular season games. There really was doubt that he’d be able to play.

Did Randle catch the Cavaliers unprepared? We’ll never know, but New York out-rebounded the Cavs 51-38. Game 1 was already physical in the paint. Game 2 should be no different and Randle may see himself challenged more.

Walking into Spida-webs. The Cavaliers were outplayed in the second half but Donovan Mitchell kept the game close. Spida led all players with 38 points and eight assists, carrying his team almost entirely after halftime.

Would Mitchell in a Knicks uniform have been fun? Of course. He’s unbelievably talented, a native New Yorker, and grew up a Knicks fan. However, Tom Thibodeau must now figure out how to slow him down in Game 2.

Hart to Hart. The player of the game was, hands down, Josh Hart. He did it all off the bench with 17 points, ten rebounds, and a clutch three in the fourth quarter that gave New York the lead for good.

Hart’s performance represented a strong performance from the whole Knicks’ bench. Isaiah Hartenstein’s key offensive rebound late prefaced Jalen Brunson’s basket with seconds remaining. Obi Toppin had a fun dunk.

It was a strong all-around effort for the New York Knicks. Let’s see them do it again in Game 2.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.