Rock vs. paper. Paper vs. scissors. Sunlight vs. mold. Capitalism vs. life. Tyson vs. McNeeley. Father Time vs. all. Flip a coin as often as you like, some matchups never break even. Knicks/Heat in 2021, for example. Miami wrapped its coils around New York and squeezed all night, especially in the third quarter, winning 98-88 and sweeping the season series.
The Knicks haven’t faced many defenses like the Heat’s, an ever-shifting starling cloud.
In the first two minutes Nerlens Noel took a lefty floateresque thing and a baseline jumper, which is like being five minutes into a first date and unveiling your complete mental health history — too soon, man. New York missed its first eight shots and was scoreless the first four minutes. The Heat didn’t exactly storm out of the gates; midway through the first they only led 8-6. Julius Randle and Taj Gibson each picked up two early fouls but stayed in the game. The Knicks were gonna need a big night from their All-Star to win. They didn’t, so deduce away.
For a while the Knicks were competitive. The offense was mostly ugly, but the defense had its moments.
Some people really thought Herro was better than RJ pic.twitter.com/bbGi0byDOj— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) March 30, 2021
And I said the offense was “mostly” ugly. There were exceptions.
Quickley in, Quickley scores pic.twitter.com/eVK18MFKCM— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) March 30, 2021
Early in the second quarter the Heat were up nine, behind the all-around brilliance of Bam Adebayo.
The Knicks missed their first seven shots in the quarter and 12 of their first 13 3-pointers. Obi Toppin followed up his positive last outing with another, tying the game with this drive.
Look at Obi switching hands off the dribble! pic.twitter.com/3tmvfaQ5Aw— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) March 30, 2021
The Knicks ran off a 16-0 run, featuring highlights on both ends from Noel.
Nerlens block ➡️ RJ dunks all over Herro— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) March 30, 2021
Couldn't make a sweeter sequence if you tried pic.twitter.com/iMTdkEqCIW
New York led by seven at the half. But the tide turned early in the third. Noel picked up his fourth foul four minutes in, the Heat took advantage of the lack of a rim protector while their own defense went full-out swarm, and when Duncan Robinson is hitting these you’re in trouble.
you can't give Duncan that much room pic.twitter.com/WcHU0BWGCM— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) March 30, 2021
Have we mentioned Jimmy Butler yet?
The Knicks yet again missed mad free throws, compounding their halfcourt struggles. A devastating 3-point flurry by Robinson, Andre Iguodala and Gabe Vincent late in the third capped a 39-point quarter after Miami had scored 36 in the entire first half.
If you like feeling your blood pressure rise, the fourth quarter was the place to be. The Knicks could NOT get a defensive rebound; the Heat more than doubled their offensive rebounds, with Adebayo grabbing more than the Knicks, who also couldn’t make a 3 to save their lives. Even when something went right, something wrong was close on its heels.
The good and bad of the Nerlens Noel experience in one clip: pic.twitter.com/SoRbx8Z66H— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) March 30, 2021
There was a late run; there always is. Derrick Rose swished a corner 3 to cut the gap to eight. But he missed a close shot that would’ve made it six, then scored but had the basket waived off for basket interference by Noel. The Knicks made the Heat use the entire shot clock and miss, only for Butler to get the offensive rebound and Bam to hit a bank-oop. The lead was back to 10. New York was deflated, devastated and defeated.
- RJ Barrett shot 10-of-32 this season against Miami. I get the feeling he’d like nothing more than to square off with them again come playoff time. A lesson learned watching these teams square off: RJ becoming a knockdown corner-3 shooter would go a long way to unlocking the Heat D.
- Noel was such a presence on the defensive end — not just the four blocks. His presence was outsized. The man was Batman. He’d look good in a cape. Actually, imagine Noel as a vampire — the teeth, the cape. Makes a little too much sense, doesn’t it?
- When MSG fills up with fans again, we’ll lose the sound of Tom Thibodeau barking and bitching. That man can kvetch.
- Something I’ve never seen before: on an attempted baseline inbounds, Barrett lofted a pass up and out of bounds, basically passing it to the Miami bench. That’s baseball, Suzyn.
- Today’s “Lemme say something nice about Elfrid Payton because my evening-out OCD of late has been something fierce”: Elfrid Payton is pretty good at tying dudes up in transition. I can’t walk down a flight of stairs of late without obsessing over the sight of either foot peeking out, to highlight how extreme my anxiety has been.
- Toppin made a rookie mistake by chasing Goran Dragić out of bounds when the Heat guard was trying to save a loose ball. He couldn’t, but with Toppin right on him he was able to knock it off the rook and save possession.
- In the first quarter a Rose crossover drew oohs/ahhs. He didn’t finish — the refs missed him getting clocked in the head — but with the truly elite athletes, there’s beauty in the breakdown.
- Speaking of spectacular sunsets:
FINAL SCORE THREAD— NBA (@NBA) March 30, 2021
Russell Westbrook puts up the FIRST 35-point, 20-assist triple-double in NBA HISTORY to lift the @WashWizards!
Russ: 35 PTS, 14 REB, 21 AST
Rui Hachimura: 26 PTS
Chandler Hutchison: 18 PTS pic.twitter.com/WSPSuuSYXk
- OAKAAKUYOAK Mike Woodson left his assistant coaching job with the Knicks to become the head coach at Indiana University. It’s weird to me that in Woody’s press conference and a Zoom clip with Thibs, both men say they’d “like to thank James Dolan” for Woodson’s opportunity. What the hell did Dolan do? That sounds more like a PR memo than coincidence.
- Two points, four boards for Trevor Ariza. OAKAAKUYOAK.
- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra is now tied for fourth all-time for consecutive seasons coaching one team. Wow, right? Imagine if for the past 30 years the Knicks had known only the touch of Pat Riley, Jeff Van Gundy and Spoelstra. With the win the Heat snapped a six-game losing streak, their longest in 4 years. In that same stretch the Knicks have 10 such streaks.
- Merry born day, Clyde!
- Mike Breen pointed out Clyde has been involved with the Knicks as a player and broadcaster for 42 of their 76 years. Also Breen scarred millions of viewers by making it sound like Clyde was going to retire or cut back his schedule next year, only to joke that Frazier will be staying another 20 years. I hope so. Listening to “antics,” “shenanigans” and “zest and finesse,” I’m good with him doing this as long as he wants.
- Great observation by my fiancee: “I don’t know how Clyde manages to put an ‘R’ in the word ‘points.’”
- Ever wondered what Clyde looks like in his birthday suit?
- If you do prayers/thoughts/crystals/energies, please send some my way. Getting some medical news this week for someone who means everything to me. My hopes and my fears keep swirling.
Quoth Moshe52792: “Roughh.” This one was straight outta 1999. Next game is tomorrow when Minnesota comes to town. They pro’ly won’t play quite the same level of defense as Miami.