#5 – April 26, 2023: Toppin helps finish off Cleveland in Game 5
As the saying goes, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Yes, I did just highlight how Toppin had a very strong Game 1 against the Cavs. However, some of you may see the stats of that game for Toppin compared to Game 5 and say that he was better in Game 1. I disagree for this reason: Game 5 is what ended the series, and Toppin was just as good in achieving that if not better than helping New York start the series with a win.
In Game 5, Toppin scored 12 points in 22 minutes, had one steal and one rebound, and shot 5-for-10 from the field and 2-for-4 from downtown. Just as he did in Game 1, Toppin scored all of his points in the third quarter in this contest. One of the differences between these two performances is that in Game 5 the Knicks lead comfortably for most of the game, so Toppin helped New York cruise rather than elevate his squad as he had in Game 1. So why was this game for Toppin better?
Well, part of why New York was playing so great was because Julius Randle was feasting on the Cleveland defense in the first half. Then, it happened. Randle went down and missed the rest of the game. So, Toppin entered the third quarter needing to replace Randle’s production and help prevent the Knicks from losing morale and the lead after seeing their All-Star get injured for the second time in roughly two weeks.
Toppin answered the call and secured the lone playoff series win of his career, and the first for the Knicks in a decade, under immense pressure.