Assistant Sports Editor
Entering this year’s NBA playoffs, the Miami Heat were in the play-in tournament where they faced the Atlanta Hawks to see what team would become the seventh seed. After failing to win, the Heat would then have to beat the Chicago Bulls in order to become the eighth seed, which they did. As the eighth seed, the Heat met the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Nobody expected Miami to win that series but they did, winning in five games alongside Jimmy Butler scoring 56 points in game four, breaking the record for most points scored in a playoff game in franchise history. The Heat moved on to face the New York Knicks in the second round. Miami took game one and then New York took game two.
Game three saw the Heat’s worst shooting game of the season by far. They shot 39% from the field, 22% from three and barely 50% on easy shots at the rim. Despite this, Butler would pour in 28 points after missing game two, and help lead his team to victory. Bam Adebayo poured in 17 points while grabbing 12 rebounds to also push the Heat to victory. The duo of Adebayo and Butler carry the Heat no matter what predicament they are in.
The Heat are also missing a key player in Tyler Herro, who fractured his wrist during the first round against the Bucks. Herro is an elite 3-point shooter who can drop 20 on any given night. Herro helped take some of the pressure off of Adebayo and Butler, and his absence hurts the team. Duncan Robinson, another elite 3-point shooter, has seemingly lost his way in the rotation.
Robinson has been in a slump ever since signing his extension, but it isn’t all his fault. His playing time has diminished severely and during the minutes he gets he just can’t seem to knock down shots. Robinson should see more minutes in the upcoming games just because of his shooting, but he needs to capitalize on his minutes and show Miami he deserves to be in the rotation.
On the other side, the Knicks are led by Juluis Randle, Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett. The Knicks signed Brunson this past offseason, and he has become a better player than he was while on the Dallas Mavericks. After beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, the Knicks are eager to make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2000.
New York has a chance to make it back, with Brunson being an elite point guard that can facilitate and score if needed. Randle is a monster on the board and can grab 10+ rebounds on any given night. Barrett is a great wing shooter who has some inconsistencies, but can play at a high level when he has too. The Knicks traded for Josh Hart halfway through this season and he has become a solid role player for the team as well. In order for the Knicks to win this series, they’ll have to string together good games and stop Butler, something that the rest of the NBA has yet to figure out.
The Knicks have a chance to tie this series 2-2 in game four at Miami tonight, which starts at 7:30 p.m.