Duke basketball: RJ Barrett silences doubters as Knicks advance

Duke basketball wing RJ Barrett (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Duke basketball wing RJ Barrett (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Duke basketball star wing RJ Barrett silenced his doubters as the Knicks beat Cleveland. 

Many called the New York Knicks front office idiotic for not wanting to include RJ Barrett in a trade for Utah Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell last summer that saw the Cleveland Cavaliers swoop in and grab Mitchell in a blockbuster deal.

New York believed in the former Blue Devils and fast forward nearly 10 months and Barrett and the Knicks are heading to the Eastern Conference Semifinals after dismantling the Cavaliers in five games, 4-1.

It’s the first time the Knicks have won a playoff series since 2013 and they will await the winner of the series between the top-seed Milwaukee Bucks and 8-seed Miami Heat.

Barrett firmly outplayed the the four-time All-Star in the final three games of the series — all victories by the Knicks.

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The No. 3 overall pick in the 2019 draft totaled 66 points over the last three contests with just six turnovers while making 55.8-percent of his shots from the field and had a rating of +33 when on the court.

Mitchell scored 61 points while committing 15 turnovers and made just 39.7-percent of his with a +/- rating of -35.

RJ Barrett was two points off the team-high on Wednesday night, a 106-95 victory, with 21 points, four rebounds, and four assists following a 26-point showing on Sunday in Game 4.

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Knicks standout Julius Randle was benched for the entire fourth quarter of Game 4 due to poor play, leaving RJ Barrett to shoulder more of the scoring load for New York, and the Duke superstar had to do the same in Game 5 after Randle was sideline shortly before halftime with a sprained ankle.

The 6-foot-6 guard was nearly flawless in the series following a clunker in Game 1 in which he only scored seven points on 2-of-12 shooting, despite the Knicks win.

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Those who called for Barrett to be traded in the offseason or benched during the regular season will be praising the Ontario native after he helped the Knicks reach feats no one thought were possible, especially with him on the team.

Now, RJ Barrett will look to bring New York one step closer to that elusive goal of a championship.

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