Damning Start to Series. Gut-Wrenching Loss. Miami 108 NY 101

It was a damning start for the Knicks in their best-0f-7 series against the Heat.

The Knicks got off to a great start, and were in command in the first half, but Miami took control in the 2nd half — and executed down the stretch while the Knicks did not.

Miami put up a wall of defense inside the paint, which negated efforts of Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, and Immanuel Quickley to penetrate, and the Knicks were putrid from 3 — shooting 7-34 for 20.6 percent (while Miami was 13-39 for 33.3%).

NY fought to the end, but could not produce enough offense in the final 5 minutes. A key play came with 4:35 left — Mitchell Robinson ripped down a rebound with the Knicks down 3 and in the middle of charging back from a 10-pt deficit. But the ball was poked from his hands, Miami recovered, and Gabe Vincent nailed a 3.

“We didn’t close the 2nd quarter well”, said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “3rd quarter we didn’t protect the basket the first few minutes. Then fought back; made it a 1-possession game. And obviously we’re going to have to shoot the ball better than we did tonite. We outrebounded them but the thing is the discrepancy on the 3’s is a lot to make up if they’re making 13 and we’re making 7. And 29 free throws — we’re giving them a lot; some were fouls at the end.”

The Knicks were without Julius Randle, out with the sprained ankle. Miami is without Tyler Herro who is gone from the playoffs with a broken hand.

1. Knicks Command 1st Half; Barrett & Toppin Tremendous

NY took control at the start and were up by as many as 12 points for a good part of the 2nd quarter. RJ Barrett was the best player on the court — making drive after drive to the hoop, penetrating and dishing for Mitchell Robinson slams, and hitting a 3 as well.

Barrett would finish with 26 points on 10-20 shooting. But after hitting an initial 3, he ended up going 1-5 from there — a problem all the Knicks had.

Obi Toppin was tremendous as well — scoring, rebounding, hitting 3’s — playing a tremendous all-around game in place of Randle. He would finish with 18 points on 7-15 shooting (4-11 from 3).

Jalen Brunson was orchestrating; Mitchell Robinson was dominating defensively inside (finished with 14 rebounds, 2 blocks), and Josh Hart was doing a job on Jimmy Butler — neutralizing him. Immanuel Quickley came off the bench and played well — penetrating and hitting his shot.

The Knicks were humming.

NY was up 32-21 after the 1st quarter, and up 40-28 midway through the 2nd quarter.

But Miami held steady and climbed back in the game — helped by the pain-in-the-ass 3-pt shooting of Gabe Vincent, who ended up with 20 points on 6-16 shooting (5-12 from 3).

2. Miami Packed the Middle

Coach Spoelestra made adjustments at the half. In the 2nd half, Miami packed the middle with a wall of guys anytime Brunson or Quickley or Barrett tried to penetrate. The Knicks also didn’t get calls on drives — especially Barrett and Brunson.

“We scored 60 points in the paint,” said Thibodeau afterwards. “That part was good. I have to look at the film. Seemed like there was a lot of contact that we didn’t get.”

And the Knicks just couldn’t hit from the outside.

  • Brunson had 25 points on 11-23 shooting but was 0-7 from 3.
  • Hart had 10 points on 5-12 shooting, but was 0-4 from 3.
  • Quickley had 9 points on 3-9 shooting, but was 1-4 from 3.

3. Vincent & Lowry Killed NY

Jimmy Butler got his points in the 2nd half, ending up with 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Bam Adebayo had 16 points.

But what killed NY in the 2nd half, besides Vincent being a pain in the ass with the 3, was Kyle Lowry — coming off the bench and stepping up with his Defense. Lowry kept stripping Knicks as they drove the lane, and sent the ball in the other direction.

Lowry also hit 3’s — finishing with 18 points on 5-12 shooting (3-6 from 3).

Obi Toppin did not play in the 4th — Thibodeau said it was because of “matching up; the way they were.”

The Boxscore


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