The Knicks had absolutely nothing in the tank against the Heat in Miami on Friday on a poor display ahead of another difficult matchup.
On Friday night, the New York Knicks (7-22) fell to the Miami Heat (21-8) by a final score of 129-114. Bam Adebayo finished with 20 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. Bobby Portis finished with 30 points, eight rebounds and three steals off the bench.
The Miami Heat were just better. That’s it. That’s the game-in-review.
But going in depth, the Heat did everything right in this game and made the Knicks pay on both sides of the ball. They started the game with 12 assists on 12 made shots. They scored 39 points in the first quarter and by the end of the third quarter—as they were up 24 points—they had eight players scores and just three in double figures.
Although Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the two best players for Miami, it was the role players and second unit that tore New York apart. Duncan Robinson went nuts from three, finishing with 18 points and six made threes. The combination of Goran Dragic, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn was also key, breaking down New York’s perimeter defense and find easy looks for their big men.
Miami’s attack dampened New York quick, locking them down from three-point range (10-of-34, 29.4% for the Knicks) and even rattled them at the free throw line. Missing eight of your first 11 free throws is simply uncharacteristic for a professional basketball team. Elfrid Payton looked good in his early bench minutes but was quickly clamped by Nunn and that was it.
If anything, this showed how much the Knicks miss their free agent shooters.
New York looked cramped all night in the paint. The likes of Julius Randle and Marcus Morris couldn’t produce space and any of their drives looked cluttered as another Knick was right beside him. Portis looked fine when the Heat was trying but got most of his best looks in the fourth quarter when the game was wrapped up.
As the Knicks fell behind 28 for another game, it was rough to watch, but understandable. Miami has everything you want in a pseudo-contender—a lead dog (Butler), a developing second man (Adebayo), excellent defense (Winslow, Nunn, Derrick Jones Jr.) and the right role players (Robinson, Dragic, and Olynyk).
More about the Knicks in the notes
- The Knicks aren’t at the same point as the Miami Heat were last season, but this is why the New York can’t punt the 2020 offseason. You can always find decent players in free agency. Miami added Tyler Herro with a late lottery pick, Kendrick Nunn on the last day of last season, Jones Jr. and Chris Silva through their G League developmental team. It’s not that hard.
- The Heat are also another reason why the Knicks have to find a proper president of basketball operations and build a proper culture.
- It’s time for Mike Miller to make a change in the rotation. For starters, Elfrid Payton and Mitchell Robinson should be starting. Robinson, despite foul trouble, gives effort and plays hard defensively. It’s time to begin valuing his development more. As for Payton, Frank Ntilikina has struggled and the sixth-year veteran point guard controls the offense well.
Elfrid getting downhill in transition with the sweet stepover pic.twitter.com/kSvrPRvIlX— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) December 21, 2019
- To continue the rotation tweaks, it’ll be interesting to see how Wayne Ellington and Reggie Bullock eventually fits. Both should get minutes just as valuable shooters. Do either player start, though? It’s tough to fit them into those minutes with Randle and Morris still on the rotation and still needing to start. That said, both could help provide balance for future lineups for Miller.
- I just don’t know what to do with the young guys anymore, even when some of them play well. R.J. Barrett and Frank Ntilikina played poorly and were largely nonexistent on both sides of the ball. Kevin Knox continues to shoot poorly and even with a solid game, Dennis Smith was just O.K.
- Bobby Portis played well, but the issues are glaring. He’s just not a good defender and often gets stuck in no-man’s-land defensively. He shoots well from three, but a significant portion of his offense is trying to attack from the triple threat or back down and work himself into a low post attempt. At $15.5 million, I would use him to eat a bad contract and snag a draft pick, but if he does stay, pushing him to cut the fat from his offensive game is key.
- I think the Knicks have to make some trades, just to clean up the roster. It’s time to recycle those positions out.
New York returns on for the second night of a back-to-back—this time against another Eastern Conference contender in the current first-place Milwaukee Bucks.