Why The New York Knicks Can Make a 3-1 Comeback Over the Miami Heat

AP Photo- Frank Franklin

Why The New York Knicks Can Make a 3-1 Comeback Over the Miami Heat


Why The New York Knicks Can Make a 3-1 Comeback Over the Miami Heat


The New York Knicks kept their season alive with a 112-103 victory over the Miami Heat Wednesday, sending the series back down to South Beach. It was far from a sure thing, but Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett made enough plays to survive Game 5 at Madison Square Garden. New York will need to come back from a 3-1 deficit in order to advance, something that has happened a few times in recent years. But, what will it take for the Knicks to win three consecutive games against a veteran Heat team?

1. Look to Play in the Open Floor

The half court offense for New York has been a constant concern throughout this series. Credit goes to Erik Spoelstra, who put a game plan in place to limit the Knicks attack on the interior. They understand that Brunson thrives when he is able to get downhill, but more often than not, Miami has forced him to settle for more three-pointers. The 26-year-old is a solid shooter from the outside, but he is most impactful when he is able to find gaps closer to the basket.

AP Photo- Frank Franklin

Miami’s strengths on the defense end are not going away, so how can the Knicks combat that? New York needs to seek opportunities in transition and play with a certain level of pace they have only shown in moments of this series. The Knicks had 16 fastbreak points and 29 points off turnovers in Game 5. They may not be able to replicate those numbers on the road, but they need to pick and choose when to play in space.

The Heat are led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, who defend at an extremely high level. It may not have been evident during the regular season, but Miami has dramatically turned up their level of intensity on that end of the floor. If the Knicks are able to get some easy baskets in transition, that should open up the rest of their offense. Otherwise, it may be a long night for New York in Game 6. 

2. Get Julius Randle Going Early in the Game

Julius Randle and his individual struggles in these playoffs continues to be a major talking point for this Knicks team. The All-NBA Third Team selection is averaging 16.8 points on 39.1 percent shooting and 27.1 percent shooting from three in the postseason. That is significantly down from his career-high 25.1 points on 46 percent shooting and 34.3 percent shooting from three in 77 regular season games. 

The 28-year-old has had some solid games, but he has played nowhere near the same level he showed in the regular season. Both Cleveland and Miami have sent multiple bodies at him, with many of his shots being heavily contested from all areas of the floor. The Knicks will not win the next two games unless Randle is impactful, active and willing to move off the ball.

New York’s offense has become stagnant when Randle has dribbled the ball on the perimeter for more than five seconds. The Heat have decided that they are going to make all of his catches difficult, giving him zero space to get to his most desired spots. I don’t see that changing, so Randle needs to adjust, and do so quickly. 

The Knicks forward has the strength to play down in the post against anyone on this Heat roster. If he is able to stay under control and attack the basket when the space presents itself, Randle should be able to get some quality looks at the rim. That should open things up for his three-pointer, which he can do if he has a certain level of confidence. 

3. Show More Resistance Against Bam Adebayo

In their first-round series with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Mitchell Robinson dominated the duo of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen on the inside. They were unable to keep the Knicks center off the offensive glass, losing that battle in nearly every game. That area of the floor was expected to be an advantage for New York against Miami, but that could not be further from the truth.  

Adebayo is the best big on the floor in the first five games of this series and it is not close. His activity on both ends has been superb, consistently outplaying Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. The Heat center is averaging 17.8 points on 55.4 percent shooting along with 9.8 rebounds. Adebayo’s pursuit of the basketball has allowed him to grab 3.4 offensive rebounds per game against the Knicks. 

Those second chance looks have hurt the Knicks, usually leading to wide open threes for Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Caleb Martin. New York won the rebounding battle 50-34 in Game 5, one of the biggest reasons why they were able to hold on for the win. If they can rebound the ball with that same level of intensity, Adebayo and the rest of Miami’s bigs could be held in check. Otherwise, the Heat are going to get great second chance looks off the rebound. 

4. Eliminate the Slow Start to the First Quarter

The Knicks have trailed at the end of the first quarter in each of the last three games. When you’re playing a team like the Heat that understands what it takes to win at this time of the year, coming out sluggish is a recipe for disaster. New York did that in Game 3 & 5, but luckily for them, the home crowd was able to uplift them last night. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Game 6 is down in Miami. 

New York needs to avoid giving up the momentum shifting plays that will get the crowd at the Kaseya Center going. Plays like this include: turnovers resulting in dunks, three-pointers on second chance looks, putback dunks, etc. If they can eliminate those kinds of things in the opening 12 minutes, the Knicks should be in good shape. 

Falling behind by ten points or more after the first quarter will give New York little to no hope of making a comeback. The Heat have shown, time and time again, that the moment will never be too big for them. They proved that in the first round against the Milwaukee Bucks, and they are doing it against the Knicks. A strong start to the game will give Tom Thibodeau’s team a chance to send this series back to New York for Game 7.


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