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Miami preaches “Heat Culture,” New York stays confident

After an odd Game 1 defeat, the Knicks are back at MSG on Tuesday to face the Heat

2023 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

New York and Miami will face each other tonight at MSG for the second game of their Eastern Conference Semi-Finals series with the Heat boasting a 1-0 record over the hosts.

With only one game in the books, it’s still too early to say things are looking bad for the Knicks. However, Tom Thibodeau and the guys must step up and split the series on Tuesday if they don’t want to face an uphill battle down in South Beach.

Actually, things might be looking bad, or at least worse than one would like them to. Enter Monday’s news, extraordinarily covered by our own Joe.

If you checked that link, you already know what’s poppin’. If you didn’t, here’s a recap: the Knicks tagged both Julius Randle (expected) and Jalen Brunson (totally unexpected) in their latest injury report as “questionable” for Game 2. Ugh.

With Game 1 last Sunday and Game 2 taking place just 48 hours after that, the Knicks didn’t had anything resembling a full practice and instead focused on reviewing and studying some film on Monday at their Tarrytown training facilities.

Speaking after the session, R.J. Barrett talked to some media members and touched on Randle’s potential absence from Tuesday’s matchup.

“If he’s on the court, he’s going to be Julius Randle,” Barrett said. “He’s an All-Star, so him being out there on the court definitely does something for us.”

The Knicks are ready for Randle missing his second consecutive game against the Heat, though, as Barrett said that ”whether he’s out there or not, we’ve got to try to figure it out because we’re in it—we’re here—but we’ve got to be prepared for everything.”

Thibs spoke briefly after practice on Monday, sharing a little nugget about Randle’s status. There was no mention of Brunson’s injury during his speech, though.

“Randle did pre-practice, got treatment, and had a good workout. So, we’ll see where he is Tuesday,” Thibodeau said. “He’s gotta follow the protocol that’s set up by medical, and then there’s a bunch of steps that he has to go through. He’s doing that and responding well, overall.

“He’s one of our main players. He does a lot for us,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, we prefer to have him, but if we don’t, we gotta find a way to get it done.”

The team announced Brunson’s questionable status after Thibs spoke to the media members, opting not to reveal the news himself when addressing the reporters.

Thibs also said that Quentin Grimes might see an increase in playing time after logging only 10 minutes in his return game last Sunday when he played off the pine with Josh Hart taking on the starting SG position. “Everything is on the table,” Thibodeau said.

Immanuel Quickley, who has struggled for the largest part of the ongoing Knicks playoffs run, also spoke for a bit on Monday.

“I think having Julius is something we’d like to have,” IQ said. “He’s a big part of our team and what he does. He can score, he can defend. He can rebound. He can push. He’s a trigger man. I don’t know if it’s just necessarily Miami, but he’s one of our best players, so he helps our team win.”

About the series, Quickley thinks “You don’t win in one game, so we have to just go back to making adjustments, making corrections—just be ready for Game 2.”

Barrett shared a similar opinion on where the series—and the squad—stands, saying that “our confidence is always high, the confidence never wavers.”

“We’re very confident in what we can do in this series. It was Game 1, and they got it,” Barrett said. “We watched the film, saw what we needed to do, corrected what we needed to correct. Now it’s just about being prepared.”

Miami, keeping their organization on brand, kept the Heat Culture narrative going for the last few hours, even more after Jimmy Butler rolled his ankle in Game 1 and opened the Heat a fantastic avenue to keep preaching their toughness and grit and hustling ways...

“Yeah, that’s our mentality—next man up,” Max Strus said. “Hopefully he can play. We’ll see what happens. But whatever we’ve got to do to get the win, we’ll do. We’ll figure it out.”

Strus was talking about Jimmy Buckets, of course. And that’s because Butler lost no time on Monday to upload a picture of himself to his personal IG walking smoothly through the New York City streets. Jimmer went the distance (literally) and included some footage of his walking motion for everybody to watch. Seriously.

Coach Erik Spoelstra fielded questions about Butler’s status (he’s questionable in the injury report) for Game 2. “He’s getting treatment around the clock. We probably won’t have any update until before the game,” Spo said on Monday evening.

“You never know... knowing Jimmy, he might mess around and try to play or whatever, we don’t know yet,” Caleb Martin said. “But we’ll be ready for whatever.”

“You have to be responsible. It would be irresponsible not to prepare for all the different scenarios,” Spoelstra added.

Of course, Heat Culture had to pop up at some point.

“One of our biggest attributes all season is the next-man-up mentality, so this’ll be one of those games for that approach,” Martin acknowledged.

“We’ve been in this type of situation the last couple of months, with guys being injured and out, and that’s why you build a team,” Kyle Lowry said.

“We know what we’re all capable of. We know what we all do and what we’re all good at, and we’ve been here before. Everybody’s been in these playoff moments,” Strus added.

“It certainly feels like the norm for our basketball team,” Spoelstra finished. “Whether it’s better or worse, we’ve been able to compartmentalize and have people step up.”

Knicks. Heat. Game 2. MSG. Tuesday. Tip-off at 7:30 ET. Don’t miss it.