Julius Randle had a look of despair that was all too familiar on his face. When Trae Young became the Knicks‘ full-on villain in 2021, he wore the same outfit. Throughout the previous season, he wore essentially the same look.
In the Game 2 series OF NBA Playoffs, the Knicks defeated the Miami Heat it was not inappropriate for Randle to look and maybe feel that way. Seven minutes remain in the fourth quarter, and the Heat now have a lead of six points thanks to another three-pointer just made by Caleb Martin, who was filling in for Jimmy Butler.
Although it was by no means impossible for the Knicks to overcome the situation, the scoreboard certainly gave the impression that they were in a hopeless position.
The Knicks could have established a significant lead without Butler’s leadership (and his automatic effort of scoring 20 points or more), Randle and Jalen Brunson could have checked out early in the fourth quarter to rest their hurting ankles, and the Knicks could have easily cashed in on a 1-1 outcome.
That is never the case when it comes to the Heat. Despite their deficit, Erik Spoelstra managed to pull off another substitution that turned Martin into Jimmy Lite, providing his side with a chance to win the match.
The Heat started the game well, and their strategy was to dominate play at Madison Square Garden completely. The strategy had been successful up until that moment when Martin got his third three of the night.
The Knicks took a timeout with their chances of making the playoffs hanging in the balance. The light switch turned on.
The Knicks began the game with a hostile attitude on the boards and placed all their hopes on Jalen Brunson, much like they did when they surprised the Cleveland Cavaliers. And the same as in the Cavs series, it was successful.
The Knicks scored 14-3 as Isaiah Hartenstein and Julius Randle rushed the boards to create extra shooting opportunities for Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart. Brunson and Hart each scored three points during this stretch. After tying the score at 96 with a three-pointer from the corner, Hart sank another three-pointer from the same spot to give the Knicks a comfortable four-point lead with under two minutes to go. Hart did a good job portraying the No. 3 jersey for the fans in New York.
In those must-win situations, Hart had a lot of Starks-like qualities, but his stat sheet revealed something more fascinating and historic. He scored 14 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and handed out nine assists, making him the first Knick player to score at least 10 points, grab at least ten rebounds, and dish out at least nine assists in a playoff game since Walt Frazier accomplished it in 1972.
When combined with the consistency of Brunson (30 points) and a healthy Randle (25 points, 12 rebounds), the New York Knicks will only be able to defeat if Hart can contribute in the manner described above. Even less is said about RJ Barrett’s contribution, despite the fact that he scored 24 points and helped the Knicks stay in the game despite being unable to finish the game because of defensive matchup issues.
The series is now at 1-1 and has changed to a best-of-five format before going to South Beach for Game 3. In addition to Butler, Randle, who was not there for the Heat’s defeat in Game 1, is anticipated to participate in the rematch. If Games 1 and 2 are any indication, Game 3 will be an all-out fight. This will be the first game in which both stars will be accessible simultaneously. Game 3 will take place.