On Saturday, the New York Knicks thoroughly tested the strength of the rims at the Kaseya Center in their 105-86 loss to the Miami Heat. The nets were barely affected.
By losing Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Knicks are in a 2-1 hole and signs are not encouraging.
Until about midday, the Heat had maintained the ruse that Jimmy Butler might sit due to his sprained ankle. With a straight face. All afternoon, Jimmy and the Heaters executed well enough to win. The Knicks, meanwhile, could not get out of the mud.
The game was hard on the eyes from the start.
Jalen Brunson missed five shots before finally connecting on a bunny with under three to go in the first quarter. Julius Randle made some wild, ill-advised attempts throughout the game and would finish with four points apiece: field goals, fouls, and turnovers. There was contact aplenty all over the court, and both teams crowed about silent whistles.
The highlight were few.
Keep going JB! pic.twitter.com/XL5pRR8Ago— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 6, 2023
Knicks lost the first quarter 32-21. To start the second frame, Miami went on a 12-2 run and led by 18-points when Tom Thibodeau called his third timeout of the game, at the 9:30 mark. Nothing much changed after that. By intermission, it felt like the Knicks were down by thirty, but somehow the score was only 58-44.
Through the half, any team with a reliable jumper could have kept pace with Miami. The Heat shot 40% from the field and 21% from deep. Inconceivably, New York played worse. They shot 34% from the field and 2-of-16 (13%) from deep, and took 18 minutes to convert their first three pointer.
For the Knicks to come back in the second half, a hero needed to rise.
RJ Barrett came out of halftime wearing a cape. He had scored four points in the first half; he scored six in the first two minutes of the third quarter.
RJ in attack mode pic.twitter.com/oedUG45ANH— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 6, 2023
He promptly stepped on his cape and fell on his face. He finished the game -31.
Butler hurt his bad ankle multiple times throughout the third quarter alone. Didn’t matter—he wasn’t coming out, and New York’s shots weren’t going in.
Knicks starters improved to a combined 3-for-18 from behind the arc after that recent RJ Barrett make. NYK trails by 17 with 3:34 to go in third. Knick starters are a combined 18-for-52 from the floor overall in Game 3.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 6, 2023
New York finally showed life at the end of the third frame. With 14 seconds left, while scuffling for a rebound, Cody Zeller shoved Julius Randle to the floor, Hartenstein jumped to his teammate’s defense, and Caleb Martin went at Hartenstein. Off-setting technical fouls were assessed, Randle missed a free throw, and New York closed out the third down 87-70.
Butler was dancing on that bad ankle.
The Heat went up by 22 with about eight minutes left in the game. Outscoring the Heat by that much over the last stretch of game seemed impossible. And was. New York cut the deficit to 13 with four and half left, but the effort was for naught. Meanwhile, Immanuel Quickley injured his knee, and Brunson was hobbling. This game couldn’t end soon enough.
I remember fondly when Quentin Grimes started and Josh Hart was a hero off the bench. ’Twas a winning formula.
And, too bad Deuce McBride is stuck to the pine. Miles plays tough defense and can make occasional threes. Maybe Deuce will be Thibodeau’s secret weapon in Game Four. Something has to change and time is running out.
The clang of Knicks’ bricks will ring in my ears all night. Recap to come.