Blame that on the hot weather.
New York arrived in Miami for Game 3 of their second-round series against the Heat and did a bunch of nothing. So little did the Knicks do that they barely cracked the 85-point barrier, losing their first game on the road 86-105 to the hosting Heat.
Let’s make this a quickie: Jimmy Butler returned after spending nearly a week rehabbing, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle were good to go for the Knicks, Josh Hart usurped Quentin Grimes for a place in the starting lineup, and all of the other important stuff was the same before the ball got rolling.
Then, the Knicks won the tip-off and everything went wrong from that point on.
It can’t be said that this game was a badly played one by the Knicks alone—far from it. Just peep at the stat sheet and you’d know what I mean. Before getting gory, and for context, the numbers say this was Miami’s worst ORtg-game of the year. And still, they got the W.
New York shot 34% from the floor and 20% from three-point range (40 3PA). Miami was better but still atrocious at 39% and 22% respectively on lower volume. The Knicks posted an offensive rating of 88 points, and the Heat finished at 108, which is funny because it's pretty much where the game ended at.
“Don’t let them out-work us!” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau screamed in one of his timeouts, as shown on the telly and other streaming devices. If only had the Knicks abided by that rule...
Thibs passionately told his players to “get some intensity, to trust each other,” and ultimately, to “show some heart, get aggressive.” That’s something New York was determined not to do on Saturday afternoon.
As much as it might pain you—no more than it does me—the following tiny clip summarizes Game 3 to a tee.
The Heat outrebounded the Knicks 50-48, they assisted 17 buckets to New York’s 15, they blocked five shots to their opponents’ three swats, and they went to the free-throw line 31 times compared to the Knicks’ 22 FTA. No need to mention New York scored 16 freebies to Miami’s 28 charity points.
Perhaps the most damaging stat, though, is the one highlighting the absolute demolition the Knicks suffered in the paint, on both ends. New York only scored 36 colored points compared to Miami’s 50. In a zone that was once dominated by New York’s big boys, Miami found nirvana.
So much so, in fact, that Mitchell Robinson played 14 minutes that could as well have been just four. Mitch and Isaiah Hartenstein combined for two points and eight boards. Keyword: combined. Not long ago, Robinson pulled down 11 offensive rebounds all by himself.
"I thought defensively we were solid but I thought offensively, we didn't play the way we wanted to."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) May 6, 2023
- Tom Thibodeau pic.twitter.com/z6vtRL0HZu
“Offensively we need energy, and that was the bigger concern,” Thibodeau said. “And then we got to trust the pass, so when we trust the pass we’ll create good shots. We got bogged down and the offense was hard, and give credit to them, they played great defense.”
Not taking anything from Miami, for sure, but the Knicks absolutely stunk this weekend, and the concerns are growing by the day.
Even the second unit, supposedly one of New York’s strengths, was outscored 14-0 by Miami’s reserves midway through the second stanza according to Phillip Martinez’s tracking for SNY.
The Heat hit the ground running and they built a quick double-digit lead. They widened it to as many as an 18-point gap. The Knicks never made it closer than a double-digit difference after Robinson (Duncan, that is) hit a three-ball in the first seconds of the second quarter.
“We couldn’t get stops early so we couldn’t get any easy buckets,” Thibodeau said. “We paid the price.”
The defense might have been bad, but the offense was hella stagnant.
Julius Randle miraculously scored 10 points on a 4-of-15 shooting outing. RJ Barrett regressed to his worst version with 14 points on 16 shots. Immanuel Quickley surely didn’t help his bounceback case with 12 points on 12 shots and a horrible 2-of-8 from range.
Only the Knicksanova Tag Team of Jalen Brunson (20) and Josh Hart (15) scored a reasonable amount of points, although it must be said that it took them 32 combined field-goal attempts (and 11 trips to the line) to get there.
“Hopefully we can get back on the right track and find a way to make some shots next game and come out with a win,” Randle said.
"Julius is a tough cover for anybody... because he's constantly in attack mode and he does everything so well on the basketball floor. He's the true definition of an all-around player."— Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) May 7, 2023
- Jimmy Butler on Julius Randle pic.twitter.com/0197ROxUdU
I believe in Randle, but I don’t believe a word uttered by Jimmy Butler in his presser when discussing JR’s presence.
We’re talking about a man that is supposed to be, at the very least, the second-best performer on the Knicks. We’re talking about someone who shot who found the net at a 26% clip wasting 11 of the 15 possessions he used by shooting... not to mention a man that had more turnovers (five) than FGM (four) to go with four personal fouls.
At least he laughed at Cody Zeller while I-Hart outpowered the elder.
Too bad Randle himself labeled the fracas as something “not relevant” in the grant scheme of things, which it actually is as the Knicks will be playing for their collective life on Monday.
We all knew this was going to be rugged, hard-battled series. It’s been three games and both teams have combined for a measly 616 points. That’s an average of 205 per game, barely more than 100 per team per contest.
From there to scoring 86 stupid points, though, there’s a stretch, let alone with this being the year 2023 of our Lord. Do you know how many teams have failed to score 87+ points in a single postseason game this year? Five, including the Knicks. Do you know how many have already packed their bags? All but the Knicks, who might soon be doing so if they don’t put their sh*t together.
Game 3 in a nutshell. The New York Knicks with 86 points against the Miami Heat on the road.— Antonio Losada (@chapulana) May 7, 2023
Five teams have now scored <87 in a single game this postseason. All four (before NYK did it on Saturday) had already packed their bags. Ominous. pic.twitter.com/MYF4kypNiF
“Every time we seemed to have a crack at getting back into it, we didn’t make the next one,” said Thibodeau. The coach thinks that the Knicks were “solid” on defense, although he acknowledged that offensively they “didn’t play the way we wanted to.”
Added Thibs: “I don’t put it on any one player, because I think it’s done collectively.”
It will most definitely take a collective effort to clean up this boring, ugly, mediocre mess if the Knicks don’t want to get back to MSG facing an inevitable elimination whether that comes on Wednesday or Friday back in Miami.