The Knicks’ frontcourt has their work cut out for them against Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. How do they match up in the paint?

The stage is officially set for a matchup of your five-seed Knicks versus the four-seed Cavaliers in a much anticipated first-round playoff showdown. New York took three of four from Cleveland during the regular season. But, as well all know, the playoffs are a whole different animal.

The Knicks posted a better offensive output over the course of the season, ranking 11th in scoring while the Cavs dwelled in the cellar at 25th, per NBA Stats. In their most recent matchup, the ‘Bockers, minus leading scorer Julius Randle, scored 130 at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and played stout team defense.

These are all encouraging signs, but it is important the Knicks don’t get overconfident, as the Cavs are an excellent young team on the rise. Donovan Mitchell has taken the Cavs to another level. Him going up against his hometown Knicks in the first round is poetic to say the least, especially after the Knicks failed to bring him in over the summer.

While Spida will get a lot of the headlines, the Cavs have two young frontcourt beasts in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley. Allen at 14.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game and Mobley at 16.3 points at 9.1 rebounds per game, per ESPN Stats, are one of the best power forward-center combos in the league. Not to mention another young star in Darius Garland.

The Knicks’ counterpunch to Allen and Mobley is Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein, both of similar age and physical ability to the Cavs bigs. I think Allen and Robinson match up well with them on most nights, but Mobley is far more talented than iHart, so the advantage on paper goes to Cleveland. Obviously, games still need to be played, but Mitch and iHart have their work cut out for them.

Battle of the Boards

The 24-year-old Allen is a shot-blocking, rim-running big who anchors the Cavalier defense, which ranks number one in the NBA in points per game allowed. More important for this analysis, they’re second in opponents rebounds per game, per NBA Stats. Despite the paint dominance, Mitch and iHart both rank in the top-1o in offensive rebound percentage, per NBA Stats. Something has to give.

Securing boards for the Knicks will be paramount as, Cleveland is last in the league in pace and bottom of the league in total possessions, per NBA Stats. Limiting possessions and opportunities for an already methodical team like the Cavs will go a long way in keeping star guards Mitchell and Garland at bay. If we get into a situation where the Knicks are getting dominated by Allen and Mobley on the glass, that’s going to equate to more shots and chances for the Cavs’ scorers to do damage. It will also hurt the Knicks offensively, if they don’t give themselves more chances. An integral part of the Knicks’ success is their ability to pour in second-chance points, where they rank third in the NBA, per NBA Stats.

Stopping the Scoring

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland both score over 20 points per game and will be difficult to slow down—Mitchell scored 42 points last game. Still, the supporting cast isn’t great. The Knicks are going to weather the storm this series.  The Knicks can really get into trouble if Allen starts throwing down rim-rocking dunks and Mobley finds his groove inside. It is worth noting that Mobley has been held below his season average in all four games against the Knicks, per Stat Muse, though Allen has eclipsed his average in one of two games he’s played against them.

If Mitch and iHart can help this trend continue, there is a great chance the Knicks will move on.

»Read: Obi’s Opportunity: Julius Randle’s Injury Opens Door For Final Playoff Audition

»Read: Where Do Knicks Players Rank in Award Season?

»Read: Jalen Brunson’s Health is the Knicks’ Wealth