Miami has shown a propensity to hit timely shots more often than the Knicks in this series. What does it mean for this series and the future?

Despite Wednesday’s impressive win to save their season, the Knicks still find themselves with their backs against the wall, down 3-2 in their series against the 8-seeded Heat, who, for much of the series, have killed the Knicks with their timely shot-making, especially from the perimeter.

As much the term “Heat Culture” is mocked across social media at this point, Miami has maintained a pretty consistent contender over the past two decades or so and has always been a well-run organization with smart coaches who get the most out of their players. Sure, stars like Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Jimmy Butler have been a huge part of why the Heat are steady winners, but often times it’s the skilled guys they fill out their roster with that push them over the top, like past-his-prime Ray Allen in the Finals a while back.


These playoffs specifically, it’s been guys like Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, and recently-unearthed Duncan Robinson who have hit clutch shots and acted as a great supplement to Butler and Bam Adebayo. Erik Spoelstra, a top-three coach in this league, does an excellent job of putting guys who aren’t household names, whether undrafted or second-round picks, in defined roles that allow them to thrive. This is a big factor in why the Heat are always a threat or at least a tough out in the postseason.

In Game 5, Miami was horrific shooting the ball for the first two and a half quarters, but a lot of the aforementioned role players hit some shots in the late third and fourth quarter to make myself and many Knicks fans sweat, despite the Garden home squad holding as much as a 19-point lead in the second half. Miami’s roster is not as talented or star-studded as many other teams this postseason, but they balance toughness, skill, and discipline very well and that’s why they are in the position they are in; on the verge of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals.

Balancing the Approach

Moving over to the Knicks’ side of things, I’ve said previously and still maintain that the ‘Bockers overall are a better team than Miami, but unfortunately, the series outcome thus far hasn’t reflected that. One glaring difference I see between the Heat and the Knicks in five games is that the plethora of shot-making and skilled guys Miami can roll out are more potent than what New York has at their disposal.

There have been some games where both teams struggle and games have been decided for other reasons, like offensive rebounding and second-chance points, but even in the Knicks’ victory a couple of nights ago, Miami for much of the second half put the pressure on the home team with their shooting and came very close to sealing a devastating end to New York’s season.

Oftentimes, the 90’s Knicks are overly romanticized for their physicality and grit which embodied New York. This is currently amplified by the old-school Tom Thibodeau, who leans into this ethos heavily, and the fact that the Heat were the 90’s Knicks playoff archenemy, leading to some old feelings being resurfaced. While toughness is necessary and can elevate teams, there is a ceiling for it and I think at points in this series, we’re seeing limitations on the Knicks’ end. At the end of the day, it’s a make-or-miss league. Toughness only gets you so far when the other team is raining three’s on you and you don’t have the horses to keep up. With the referees and league in general cracking down on hand checks and physicality on the perimeter, guys are often put in more advantageous positions to make shots, which is a big part of why we’ve seen the NBA transform into a run-and-gun attraction.

Series Comparison

Julius Randle has struggled shooting, Immanuel Quickley has been hobbled and ineffective, and Quentin Grimes, Josh Hart, and Obi Toppin haven’t been great offensively. Juxtapose that to Heat rotational players: Strus, Robinson, and Vincent can get hot at a moment’s notice and seem to have an uncanny knack for hitting shots at the times the team most needs them. The Knicks can roll out all of the tough guys they want, but if they cannot make timely shots consistently there is no chance to get past the Heat. It’s entirely possible that the Eastern Conference Semis will be their ceiling if they continue to trot out the roster the way it’s currently constructed.

Even though we are all anti-Heat right now, if you take a step back, Miami is a good example of how to build a team. If there’s anything to take from this series, win or lose, it’s that they need to make some adjustments to bring in some more offensive pieces in order to truly stack up with the classes of the Eastern Conference.


Aside from some personnel tweaks and hoping that the Knicks make their shots, obviously there isn’t much they can do in this series or the postseason, should they advance, to change the overall roster.

Looking ahead to the offseason there are going to be some decisions to make on who to keep and acquire to build around Jalen Brunson, R.J. Barrett, and Julius Randle, assuming he’s here. Getting another shooter or two in the building I believe will work wonders for the Knicks and maybe even push them into the Celtics, Sixers, and Bucks category of teams.

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