Following their third consecutive defeat in Milwaukee, the Knicks head to Miami to take on the Fizdale’s former team, the Heat.
The New York Knicks are bound to win again eventually, right?
They are currently amid a three-game losing streak. All three games followed the same pattern, in which New York recovered from an initial deficit, had a chance to win, but ultimately failed to execute the necessary plays down the stretch to overtake their opponent. They lost to the Nets and Celtics by just one basket. Against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night, they clawed right back into the game only to fall apart in the closing minutes.
The Knicks (1-3) will now take their young talents to South Beach to face the Miami Heat, a team that is 1-2 so far this season. The Heat have had their fair share of being in close, grind-it-out games, and were recently on both the winning and losing ends of 113-112 results. They beat the Washington Wizards on Oct. 18 but fell to the Charlotte Hornets by an identical score two days later.
Last year, the Knicks split the regular season series with the Heat, winning two of four meetings. Both of New York’s wins over Miami were by comfortable margins.
Wednesday night’s game will be the last on the road before the Knicks head home for the weekend. It’s an opportunity for them to taste victory once again.
Here’s what to watch for against the Heat.
Just as comebacks from large deficits have been the Knicks’ modus operandi, settling into the game slowly after opening tip-off has been a trend over the last three matchups.
Against Brooklyn, the Knicks spotted the Nets a 12-point lead early. Boston led by as high as 16 midway through the first half. With a staggering 71 points in the first two quarters, the Bucks held a 19-point edge over the Knicks at halftime. Once they heated up and settled in, they were able to compete. The Knicks’ comebacks have been valiant efforts and fun to watch, but their slow starts hurt them down the stretch.
DAME DOT TIES IT pic.twitter.com/B2z9TAdSpS
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 23, 2018
In their lone win of the season, against the Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks pounced all over their foes going into halftime. Stretching the lead into the roaring 20’s, they hardly looked back. Channeling that intensity early on might not guarantee a win, but it will set them up with a much better position.
The Knox-Less Bench Report
The Milwaukee game was the first full match without the services of 19-year-old rookie Kevin Knox. With a serving of minutes to go around, we saw the expected primary beneficiaries step up.
Damyean Dotson had another solid outing, playing 31 minutes. He finished with 14 points—including a 4-of-8 performance from long range—and eight rebounds. His ability to knock down shoots, crash the boards, and disrupt Milwaukee’s passing lanes was much appreciated. While Allonzo Trier had a quieter game, he was one of only a few players with a positive plus-minus stat.
Noah Vonleh and Mario Hezonja had their best showings in a Knick uniform so far. Vonleh finished with just 11 points, five boards, and a couple of blocks, but his growth was evident in his impact on both ends of the court. Vonleh had a few flashy put backs on offense and provided rim protection on the other end, defending Giannis Antetokounmpo. Hezonja did a bit of everything against the Bucks and looked comfortable on the floor. Overall, the bench combined for 47 of the team’s 113 points.
I’m falling for you too, Vonleh pic.twitter.com/xJlsAS8BGE
— The Knicks Wall (@TheKnicksWall) October 23, 2018
With the Heat dealing with a number of injuries, New York’s bench will play a crucial role in wearing down their opponents, supplying valuable minutes while starters get a rest.
Heat Check and Injury Watch
Which leads to the last point. The Heat were fortunate to have a few days off, but it doesn’t seem like it was enough time for their players to nurse their injuries.
Hassan Whiteside (groin), Derrick Jones, Jr. (foot) & Udonis Haslem (illness) all missed today’s practice.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 22, 2018
James Johnson was back in action for the heat on Monday, but Justise Winslow, Wayne Ellington, Hassan Whiteside, Derrick Jones Jr., and Udonis Haslem all might not be available.
Although more established names like Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic remain healthy, it’s starting to look like the Heat are welcoming the rise of Rodney McGruder and Josh Richardson. It’s still too early to say whether or not these guys have elevated their play to the next level, but they’ve done an excellent job so far.
McGruder has played valiantly in light of all these injuries, putting together a career game against the Wizards. He’s starting to find his niche as a scorer and a hard-nosed defender. For a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, he rebounds well and isn’t afraid to be physical for a loose ball.
Richardson’s role has been more defined as a starter over the last couple of years, and it appears his game is growing. An aggressive focal point for the Miami offense, his usage rate has risen to 24.7 percent—versus last year’s 17.5 percent (eighth on the team). The Heat are comfortable with Richardson taking more shots, and he’s becoming more than just a three-point shooter. He currently leads the Heat with 18.7 points per game.
Will the Knicks take advantage and get off to a strong start or finally close one out? We’ll find out when they take on the Heat on Wednesday night. Tip-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST.
UPDATE: 12:04 p.m.
The Heat officially announce who’s available and who’s out, per South Florida Sun Sentinel‘s Ira Winderman:
Heat announce Justise Winslow is available to play tonight, which would be his season debut. Dion Waiters (ankle) and James Johnson (hernia) are out. Derrick Jones, Jr. (foot) and Wayne Ellington (ankle) are doubtful. Jones had been starting, so Winslow could step into that role.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 24, 2018