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The Knicks can’t afford another slow start in Game 6

Falling behind against a physical and streaky Heat team looking to close out the series would not be ideal

Miami Heat v New York Knicks - Game Five Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The New York Knicks’ first quarter against the Miami Heat in Game 5 was abysmal.

New York would shoot 2-8 from three and 3-10 inside the arc to only put up 14 in the quarter. Miami also struggled from deep, hitting 2-9 three-pointers but hitting 5-12 shots inside the arc and 6-7 foul shots to score 24 in the quarter.

Game Five started how this series has looked, lousy shooting by the Knicks and overmatched by the Heat.

2nd quarter:

What the Knicks did in the 2nd-4th quarter saved their season. This team has been shooting a historically awful below 30 percent from the three-point line. They are on pace to be among the worst outside shooting teams to ever make it this far in a postseason.

I’m not sure what got into them but in the second quarter, they hit 5-12 three-pointers. Those 15 points are obviously massive for a team only averaging 102.2 points per game this series. Inside scoring improved in the second with the Knicks hitting 5/8 in the paint. The Knicks didn't take their first free throw of the game until 5:14 left in the second quarter. Starting to play more aggressively, they took 11 free throws from 5:14 in the second until halftime. This helped them outscore Miami 36-23 in the second quarter and carry a 50-47 lead into halftime.

I wanted to specifically talk about that second quarter because I’m not sure if they could pull that off again with another slow start in Game Six. The first 12 minutes of Game Six can’t be taken lightly for the Knicks, especially with how they played in Games Three and Four in Miami.

3rd quarter:

The Knicks would continue shooting it well by hitting 5-8 three-pointers in the third quarter. This was on top of going 6-8 near and inside the painted area. It was encouraging to see the Knicks hit shots near the basket as they’ve only been shooting 60.1 percent from less than five feet. Points in the paint were a big emphasis for New York in the regular season. They also got themselves back to the line and hit 7-12 free throws in the third quarter. A 34-27 third quarter gave the Knicks an 84-74 lead going into the fourth.

1st quarter: Miami 24-14

2nd-3rd quarter: Knicks 70-50

4th quarter:

Everybody knew the Miami Heat wouldn't just go away in the fourth quarter. They would continuously cut the lead but the Knicks kept answering. A Jimmy Butler free throw with 2:37 left cut the Knicks lead 103-101.

Isaiah Hartenstein would come up with a massive offensive rebound putback dunk to keep the Knicks up four with a little over two minutes left.

It really was such a huge play in terms of keeping the Knicks ahead but also mentally. Down 3-1 in the series, New York was leading since halftime. A Miami defensive rebound would've given the Heat a chance to tie or take the lead with two minutes left. The already nervous energy would've turned to panic with each shot becoming more important.

Duncan Robinson would miss a three with 1:59 left that would've cut the lead to 105-104. New York secured the rebound and four RJ Barrett foul shots in the next minute extended the lead to 109-103 with 51 seconds left. The Knicks win 112-103 and the focus shifts to Game Six.

Final thought:

The Knicks were able to figure it out in the 2nd-4th quarters of Game 5 but they can’t rely on that. They scored 98 points in the 2nd-4th quarters while hitting 11-26 (42%) from three and attempted 40 free throws (hitting 29 of them). Miami did not shoot the ball well but now goes back home where they are 4-0 in the playoffs.

Jalen Brunson played all 48 minutes in Game 5 and it will be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank. Randle (24 points) and RJ Barrett (26 points) likely will need to have similar or even better performances in Game 6 to help Brunson force a Game Seven on Sunday.

Have a good start, don’t fall too far behind early, and find a way to pace yourself and keep the season alive.

If this Jalen Brunson shows up again tonight, anything is possible:

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