Takeaways: Knicks outscore HEAT 38-15 in fourth quarter for comeback win
1: After a couple of disappointing losses against teams deprived of their star players, the HEAT had only to win. Against a New York Knicks team missing their leading scorer in Julius Randle, they had their chance. But the Knicks weren’t going to take it easy. For a while, New York trailed with a volume shooting approach and a metric ton of offensive boards (18), but Miami’s perpetual 12-point lead through the first three periods never felt particularly threatened in what was establishing itself as one of the sleepiest non-eruptions of the year. It was also, as Erik Spoelstra pointed out after the game, a lead that never grew much when it seemed like it.
Then the fourth quarter hit. Behind Immanuel Quickley’s mix (20 points in the period) of pulling shots and paint attacks, the Knicks’ bench unit ran a 19-2 in the fourth as the HEAT offense (six points in the first seven minutes of the period) was stuck in a wet concrete pit without Tyler Herro’s extra jolt. That run eventually swelled up to 38-13. Miami’s late-game offense has been one of its weak spots this season, especially when it comes to holding onto big leads, and there isn’t enough space on this page to a thorough autopsy of these clutch time ailments. Not the best week of the HEAT season, that’s for sure.
2: When the HEAT was without Jimmy Butler (30 points on 17 shooting) and Bam Adebayo for most of December, part of the reason Miami was able to more than get away with a winning record was because they changed their style of play, throwing three at a league high rate. Without Julius Randle, who makes a living working isolations and post-ups, the Knicks seemed to have a similar game plan — against a Miami team that’s typically more willing to give up a three than a dab of paint — so they were attempting a nearly season-high 15 threes in the first quarter and had put up 26 at the break. When the shorthanded HEAT tipped their offensive balance toward the three, they had probably the best shooting month in franchise history. New York struggled early in the night but finished 17 of 50, finding plenty of juice in the streak, shooting 6 of 12 from the bottom of the fourth. Will show that in the modern NBA, when you lack offensive punch, especially the hand that opens up lanes to the rim, the best plan is often to double down on the perimeter rather than trying to replicate a plan without the right pieces . The Knicks don’t win this game without launching free and confident from beyond the arc.
3: The main thing to note is that after about a week of alternating minutes at the back center, Markieff Morris and Dewayne Dedmon shared the frontcourt when Bam Adebayo wasn’t on the floor – with the result being first l one of the HEAT’s best bench minutes of the week until New York ran their bench later. We still don’t have a clear idea of what bench rotation will look like in the playoffs. It’s going to be match-based anyway. Erik Spoelstra is simply, as he always will, doing his due diligence and looking at all possible options and combinations.
-Next Up For Miami: Saturday – March 26, 8:00 p.m. ET – Vs. Nets in Miami, Florida