Three Major Takeaways From Knicks vs Heat Game Two

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Three Major Takeaways From Knicks vs Heat Game Two


Three Major Takeaways From Knicks vs Heat Game Two


The New York Knicks evened up the series at 1-1, thanks to their 111-105 win over the Miami Heat Tuesday night. Both Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle played through injuries, but Jimmy Butler was held out after spraining his ankle in Game 1. Here are my main takeaways from the second game of this series. 

1. Jalen Brunson Showed Out When His Team Needed Him Most

The first-year Knick struggled in the first half of Game 2, scoring just seven points on 1-for-6 shooting and 1-for-3 shooting from three. It seemed as if the sore right ankle was affecting his shot, especially those that he was taking off the dribble. Remember, this was coming on the heels of Game 1, in which he was 0-for-7 from three, despite scoring 25 points in a loss. So, what would the Knicks get out of the guard coming out of the halftime break?

Brunson got straight to work in the third quarter, going for 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting and 3-for-4 shooting from three. The Knicks struggled to crack the Heat’s zone in the first half, but as soon as they were able to get dribble penetration, space quickly opened up. Josh Hart and Julius Randle set Brunson for open threes on the catch, which got him going. Once those started to fall, he was able to find more room on the interior. 

The 26-year-old took that confidence into the fourth quarter, giving his team a much needed eight points on 4-for-6 shooting and 2-for-3 shooting from three. Miami had no answer for Brunson, as he was able to get to all of his spots. Both of his three-pointers in the fourth came in critical moments, completely flipping the momentum of the game.

Brunson finished the contest with a game-high 30 points on 10-for-19 shooting and 6-for-10 shooting from three. The Knicks would not have won last night without the second half performance of the former Villanova Wildcat. He took over with the game hanging in the balance, helping New York close it to even up the series. 

2. Finding The Right Shots from Three-Point Range

The Knicks shot 35.4 percent from three-point range in the regular season, which ranked 19th in the league. That number has taken a significant dip in the postseason, as New York ranks last among the teams that advanced to the second round with a 29.1 three-point percentage through seven games. New York may not shoot the ball well from the perimeter, but they certainly did not continue that trend in Game 2.

Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett combined for 11 made three-pointers, as the Knicks shot 40 percent as a team from downtown. Yes, they took 40 threes, but most of them were good looks. One of the biggest reasons why Brunson and Barrett were able to hit as many as they did was because of Julius Randle’s presence. The Heat gave a lot of attention towards the All-Star forward, leaving the other Knicks open on the opposite wing. 

Josh Hart hit two important threes late in the fourth quarter, one that tied the game at 96-96 and one that put the Knicks up by four with over 90 seconds in the game remaining. The 28-year-old has never been someone who has taken a high volume of threes, being very selective with his attempts from the perimeter. Hart does not actively look for his own shot, but when he does, it typically comes in a moment where the Knicks desperately need a basket. 

 The Knicks are not going to become a great three-point shooting team overnight, but that does not mean they should completely abandon it. New York needs to focus on taking the right threes more than anything else. With Brunson and Barrett having great shooting nights in Game 2, it will be interesting to see if they can continue that in Miami on Saturday.

3. Julius Randle Impacting the Game in More Ways Than One

It was unclear if Julius Randle was even going to play in Game 2 until around 30 minutes before tip-off. The Knicks held him out in Game 1’s loss, so the expectation was that he would play in a must-win game. Randle showed up in a big way for New York, finishing with 25 points on 8-for-18 shooting, 3-for-9 shooting from three, 12 rebounds and eight assists. The 28-year-old gave his team everything he had, despite playing through pain with the sprained ankle.

In Game 1, the Heat put most of their focus on containing Jalen Brunson and being physical with him. Miami could not do that in Game 2, as the return of Randle gave them another guy to be worried about. The former Kentucky Wildcat drew a ton of attention, getting doubled anytime he got the ball in the post. Randle’s playmaking was impressive against the Heat, staying under control despite being constantly pressured.  

Randle made a ton of important plays, but maybe the most important one was an offensive rebound with just over a minute remaining in the fourth. Josh Hart missed a putback layup, but who was there to clean it up off the glass? Julius Randle. He drew a foul on his second chance opportunity, and he would go on to hit both free throws. That would be his only two points of the quarter, but wow, they were critical. 

The Knicks would not have won Tuesday’s game without Randle, and with him back, the next two games in Miami become far more interesting. The return of Jimmy Butler will be on the minds of many in the coming days, but New York will prepare with everyone available on their side. Both teams are dealing with injuries, but at the moment, it looks as if Randle could continue to be a dominant force as this series develops.


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