Enough is enough. The Knicks have edged on the precipice of their offense clicking for two games. Their three-point shooting and team assist have been worse than the regular season low for any team. Game Three is the game Julius Randle wakes the fuck up and unleashes his full offensive arsenal on the bum-ass Miami Heat.
Randle returned from reaggravating his ankle in Game Two to drop 25 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists. But even that solid return felt underwhelming. Randle will go beast mode against Kevin Love and “Bum” Adebayo, predicated on his typical three-ball and first-quarter barrage. No one on the Heat can stop Randle’s elite combination of brute strength and three-level scoring.
RJ Barrett has evolved into the third scoring option Knicks fans have dreamed he would be. Jalen Brunson is firing on all cylinders. Tom Thibodeau has delivered the best coaching performance of his career. The Knicks are the most talented team. This would be the case even if Tyler Herro and Victor Oladpio, the team’s third and fifth-highest scorers were playing.
Heat coach Eric Spoelstra is the best tactician in the league. But he can only do so much. The Knicks’ depth, providing Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes finally find their nerves, is the team’s secret weapon, capable of gaining transition points.
It’s looking likely Jimmy Butler will play Game Three. The Heat Illuminati is playing his status close to the chest, hoping for mental mind games. But no coach knows Butler better than Thibs. He’s been game-planning for this moment his entire life. The Knicks have the gnarly, dawg defenders to throw on Butler between Grimes, Quickley, Barrett, and Josh Hart. Thibs knows all of Butler’s tricks.
Plus, Butler playing means fewer minutes and fewer shots for Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and Max Struss, the Heat’s three deadly shooters. That trio has killed the Knicks, combining for 37 points in Game One. It was even more lethal with Butler out in Game Two—where the trio dropped a combined 60 points. That was good enough for more than half of the team’s total points. Vincent has especially been a Knicks killer, targeting Brunson on switches and hounding him on defense. Expect Brunson to take the matchup to heart.
A Knicks blowout depends unequivocally on Randle making MSG South his kitchen, where he can put in work to make a meal out of the Heat’s aging, overrated roster. This will be Randle’s greatest playoff performance of all time.
The Knicks find their groove by the bench lighting up, Randle dropping over 30, and the three-ball flying. Knicks by double digits.