The Knicks must face the Heat with their backs against the wall again, this time in Game 6 in Miami.
The New York Knicks are looking to stave off elimination against the Miami Heat as they play a pivotal Game 6 in South Beach on Friday night. After huge games from four Knicks – Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Quentin Grimes – New York hopes to get even more production on offense and another low-shooting effort from Miami to force a winner-takes-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
Questions loom about how many minutes Brunson and Grimes can piece together after playing all 48 during Wednesday’s Game 5 win but nothing indicates that head coach Tom Thibodeau will be limiting anyone.
Here are a few things to watch for as the Knicks try and live another game in this round 2 matchup:
Hope for another Miami cold shooting night
Despite the box score from Wednesday night’s game telling you that, maybe, the Knicks played excellent perimeter defense against the Heat leading to them only shooting 30% from long distance, that wasn’t really the case. Instead, it looked like either the Heat just had a down game shooting-wise that they were due for, they were regressing back to the subpar shooting that helped to land them in a play-in spot despite obvious potential to be a higher seed, or both.
It’s hard to say whether Miami will once again shoot like this, but it’s important to point out that it’s been less about their efficiency on offense, which neither team can hang their hat on this series, but more about New York’s three-point shooting being so bad. But, the Knicks shot 38% from three in Game 5 and it was a big difference maker. They have to maintain this level of confidence from their shooting if they want to keep producing a response to the Heat’s obvious confidence from distance.
Cut back on turnovers
The Knicks had 18 turnovers in Game 5, and so many felt preventable had they been even a little careful about protecting the ball. New York was a great team at doing this all regular season, but Miami has pesky defenders in Jimmy Butler, Gabe Vincent and Kyle Lowry that tend to get their hands into possessions and muck up ball handlers with ease.
The Knicks just need to think. Stop rushing things, stop taking their eye off the ball, and stop assuming they’re safe on a fast break. This is something that the Miami Heat bench has certainly capitalized on, and it’s helped lead them to a 35.3 point-per-game average this series. More chances like this for the Knicks’ bench can especially help to get them going, too, as they’ve struggled all postseason long to produce at the same rate as they were in the regular season.
Start taking advantage of more fast break opportunities
The Knicks had 16 fast break points, and they were especially dominant in this regard in the second quarter of Game 5. They took a big lead in this period, never relinquishing it back to the Heat.
But, it did feel like a few of those opportunities which could have led to some even larger leads and bigger momentum swings were tainted by careless turnovers or from running all the way down the floor, stopping on a dime and making it impossible to score. New York can’t afford to make, really, any mistakes in Game 6 against a Miami team that’ll be looking for any chance to get an advantage early on. The Knicks simply must take a page out of their regular season book and feed Mitchell Robinson and Obi Toppin in those opportunities, or let Brunson handle the rock, collapse the defense and look for an open three-point shot.
Immanuel Quickley is still doubtful for tonight’s game after spraining his ankle in Game 4. The Heat have not listed anyone out for the game.