Jalen Brunson’s 38 points throttled the Knicks past the Heat 112-103, staving off elimination in the process.

The New York Knicks (2-3) defeated the Miami Heat (3-2) 112-103 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. For the Knicks Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists, while RJ Barrett had 26 points, seven rebounds, and three made threes to assist in victory. As for Miami, Jimmy Butler finished with 19 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists, while Duncan Robinson had 17 points and five made threes off the bench.

What a nail-biter. It may have taken every effort, but the Knicks were able to send it back to Miami for Game 6. While it wasn’t the prettiest game by any means, Game 5 marked some significant progress from Randle, Thibs, and the team’s defense overall when it comes to marking Jimmy Butler.

Aside from Brunson’s 38, Randle had a great second half, finishing with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists on 7-of-13 shooting after starting the game shooting 1-for-7 from the field. His second-half turnaround saw him integrate himself more into the offense rather than forcing it in isolation, and that helped the Knicks maintain their lead. RJ Barrett also had a great game, scoring 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line, finishing with a team-high +17. For Miami, Jimmy Butler led the way with 19 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds, as his offense was severely limited by the Knicks’ pesky backcourt of Grimes and Barrett. Bam Adebayo followed closely behind Butler, finishing the game with 18 points and 8 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting.

New York needed to get off to a good start to set the tone in a win-or-go-home game. Although the Knicks had some time to adjust from game to game, New York has not learned from the mistakes that plagued them in their previous losses during this series. They continued to finish out possessions poorly, allowing Miami to capitalize on the offensive glass and get second-chance opportunities. In the first quarter, the Heat managed to get 13 points off of second-chance opportunities, dominating the glass early on. Their extra chances helped them get on an 8-0 run with 4:21 left in the first quarter, with Jimmy Butler and Max Strus leading the way for the Heat. By the end of the quarter, Miami finished off on a 16-4 run and was in the driver’s seat, leading New York comfortably, 24-14.

The Knicks shot 31.4% in the opening quarter of play, as nobody could really get it going. While Randle hit his first shot of the game, he could not make the mark for the remainder of the quarter, as it was clear that his isolation offense was either going to lead to a bad shot or a turnover. Brunson and Grimes had some solid finishes towards the end of the quarter, but the team’s 14 points overall in the first quarter was one of if not their lowest first quarter total this season. Something would need to change on both ends of the floor rotation-wise for the Knicks to get back in this one.

With the bench taking over in the second quarter alongside Brunson and Barrett, New York was able to turn things around to start the second quarter, going on an 18-2 run to kick off the quarter, a fantastic turnaround in the span of three minutes. After Quentin Grimes hit a big three to kick off the quarter, Jalen Brunson found a cutting Obi Toppin for the alley-oop finish to really get the momentum going:

From there, both Barrett and Brunson extended the run, with RJ stepping out to knock down the three and Jalen breaking down the defense to get to the basket. As good as their start was to begin the 2nd, the Knicks went cold from the field after the 9:06 mark after scoring 13 unanswered points. After Miami called timeout, their defense tightened up and didn’t allow the Knicks to score a field goal again until the 4:44 mark, as the Heat got things settled and regained the lead. After five minutes of missing the mark, Barrett broke their cold streak with a lay-in to reignite this New York offense. Brunson swiftly followed and played fantastically to finish the half. And although Randle could not get it going after hitting his first shot of the game, he hit a pivotal shot to end the first half:


Coming out of the locker room, the Knicks look revitalized, especially Randle. After nailing a shot to give the Knicks the lead at halftime, he didn’t stop there. Randle did a great job working within the offensive sets, moving the ball, and avoiding isolation situations as he helped facilitate New York’s offense early in the third quarter, scoring on some easy looks, and creating opportunities for his teammates.

With Randle putting it together early in the third, it allowed Brunson and Barrett to continue getting great looks. As important as their shot-making has been in this game to keep New York within striking distance, Barrett’s third-quarter defense against Jimmy Butler was phenomenal, using his body to wall up and make a clean contest on numerous occasions. The Heat’s offense struggled in the third quarter, scoring just seven points through seven minutes of play. Barrett and the Knicks may have played solid defense, but even on clean looks, the Heat could not find the hoop.

Towards the end of the third quarter, Randle came alive. After scoring four points early on in the third, Randle hit two big threes to add to the Knicks’ cushion as Miami tried to get back into the game late in the third. New York would need every single basket they could get, considering the Heat found their shot with the third quarter winding down. After a couple of unanswered 3-pointers from Miami, the Knicks led by 10, 84-74 heading into a crucial final quarter of play.

Brunson’s leadership was on display all game in a win-or-go-home game for the Knicks, and the team followed behind him. While he was fantastic the entire game, his sheer scoring helped the Knicks keep the Heat at arm’s length and maintain the lead. Unfortunately, Brunson could only fend off the Heat for so long, as Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson caught fire to shrink their lead from 10 to as low as four midway through the fourth as it set up to be a nail-biting finish.

In the final six minutes, the Knicks had to dig deep to pull this one out, especially with the Heat capitalizing on every single chance New York gives them. With Miami over the foul limit early in the quarter, they intentionally fouled Mitchell Robinson to put him at the free-throw line several times in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for the Knicks, Robinson pulled through and hit the majority of his shots at the line to keep the Knicks ahead.

To finish this game out, the Knicks got scrappy, as they dove for balls and gave their best effort in the closing minutes. Shoutout to Jalen Brunson and Quentin Grimes. They played all 48 minutes in this game, which is the first time it’s been done by two Knicks in a playoff game since 1972 when Walt Frazier and Jerry Lucas did it. Brunson’s relentless motor on offense and Grimes’s discipline and fantastic help defense really throttled the Knicks forward. Check out this play from Grimes. Although it appears that he gets hurt during the play, he still stays within the defensive play, guards the ball, and pokes the ball free for the steal.

These types of plays win playoff games and for Grimes to do this in a playoff setting in just his second year is tremendous.

Down the stretch, the Heat could not capitalize on a few mistakes from the Knicks, including a crucial 5-second turnover from Barrett. Between frequent misses from Miami and New York finishing it out from the free throw line, the Knicks were able to pull out the win, 112-103.

The Knicks travel back to the Kaseya Center in Miami, Florida for Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Friday, May 12th. Tip-off is set for 8:00 p.m.