DEJA VU. 5 Reasons Why Miami 98 NY 96 on 2-10-21

Once again, for the iftieth time in the last 5 years — the Knicks were not able to close out a close game. Like Deja Vu all over again. Just like the game before against Miami. And all those games of seasons past. Not even this 2020-21 version of the Knicks, with Tom Thibodeau as the coach, and growing (and better) talent on the team, and even Derrick Rose back.

This game was knick-and-tuck all night, but New York entered the 4th quarter with a 6-point lead based especially on the play of the 2nd unit led by Rose. Miami Coach Eric Spoelstra was shown looking on worriedly from the sidelines with his assistant coach. But Miami pulled back into it, and it came down to the wire.

1. Barrett’s Finger Roll

The final play harkened back to the missed finger roll of Patrick Ewing in that late 90’s playoff 7th game that would have sent Knicks to the next round. The Knicks were down 2 with 6.2 seconds left in the game. A play was called to open up the left lane for an RJ Barrett drive. NY ran the play and Barrett broke free to the basket, laying the ball up with his favored left hand — but the ball rolled in and out. Ballgame.

Barrett had another so-so game — he’s been struggling the last few — but did make all his patented thrive-on-contact drives all night. Until the last one. He finished 5-14 (1-4 from 3) for 13 pts, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists for a -9.

2. Miami’s Defense

The Knicks met their match with Miami’s defense, coached by Eric Spoelstra. With Thibodeau, NY has now joined Miami as one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. The Miami defense did a good job keying on Julius Randle, who had a rare off game — 4-18 shooting (1-7 from 3) for 12 pts, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

Miami denied alley oop slams to Mitchell Robinson too — he had 2 pts on 1-2 shooting with 7 rebounds in 29 minutes.

The Knicks rivaled Miami’s defense, and the game went back and forth all night.

3. Miami’s 3’s

And Miami shot better than the Knicks from 3 (who doesn’t?) — Miami was 14-33 from 3 while the Knicks were 10-28. Kelly Olynyk killed the Knicks all night — 7-10 shooting (6-8 from 3) for 20 pts.

4. The Refs

Knicks Twitter was livid all night at the calls Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler were getting. They weren’t more aggressive than the Knicks front court (Randle, Robinson, etc) but they kept getting calls — Adebayo was 13-16 from the free throw line; Butler was 13-15 from the free throw line — those two had 31 free throws, ALMOST TWICE as many as the entire Knicks team (NY was 12-16 from the line as a team).

Hard to win a game when both teams are playing with the same level of intensity and defense, yet one goes to the line so many times.

5. Good Performances

Elfrid Payton had another strong performance — leading the Knicks from the gate and finishing 8-16 (1-2 from 3) for 18 pts, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.

The second team played well: Derrick Rose had 14 points on 5-9 shooting and a +6; Alec Burks 11 pts on 4-8 shooting (3-6 from 3) and a +9, Nerlens Noel 6 pts, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks and a +12 in 19 minutes, and Immanuel Quickley 7 points and a +7 although he was only 2-9 from the floor (1-4 from 3).

Reggie Bullock (3-4, 1-2 from 3; 9 pts) and Obi Toppin (4 pts on 2-3 shooting in 11 minutes) also played well.

Kris Nunn hurt the Knicks with his shooting (3-8 shooting, 3-6 from 3 for 11 pts) and Tyler Herro hit some big shots in the 4th (6-15 shooting overall, 3-8 from 3 for 15 pts).


One of the enchanting things about the evening were the Miami “Vice” ‘city’ uniforms, which have been made to match the colors of the court (or vice versa) — various shades of pink merging into various shades of blue. Some viewers liked it; some thought they were seeing things. It was like Miami made the uniforms out of the matching drapes in a Sound of Music kind of thing. Or they were trying to camouflage the Miami players so the Knicks couldn’t see them. Funny and pretty at the same time — I loved them (and the matching court). The Knicks were wearing their ‘City” black uniforms which are also terrific. It was unmistakable who was on what team, unless you were color blind or couldn’t see the Miami players due to the camouflage.

The Boxscore


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