The Knicks head into Game 4 against the Miami Heat trailing 2-1 and facing a near-must-win scenario on the road.
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#5 New York Knicks (47-35) @ #8 Miami Heat (44-38)
How to Watch:
- Date: Monday, May 8th
- Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Channel: TNT
- Spread: MIA -4.5
- Moneyline: MIA (-190), NYK (+158)
- Game total: 207
The Heat beat the Knicks wire-to-wire in Game 3 105-86. They hit the Knicks in the mouth early and then played stifling defense, never letting New York get any good scoring chances. Miami now has a chance to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a win at home, which means the stadium will be raucous and New York will be feeling as much pressure as it has all season.
The Knicks have responded well to pressure all season, so they won’t back down from a challenge, but the question is whether their relative youth and inexperience will be enough to counter Miami’s vast playoff experience.
In Game 3, that experience won out. Jimmy Butler led the way with 28 points, while Max Strus added 19 points, and Bam Adebayo had 17 points and recorded his 20th career playoff double-double. Kyle Lowry came off the bench with 14 points and continued a trend of Miami’s bench clearly outperforming New York’s.
In fact, through three games, the Heat bench has scored 84 points, while the Knicks bench has scored 52 points. Considering depth has always been a source of pride for them this season, the lack of production off of the bench has been a killer.
In part, it has been due to the questionable decision by Tom Thibodeau to insert Josh Hart into the starting lineup over Quentin Grimes. The decision has backfired in part because Grimes hasn’t played as well off of the bench and brings much-needed spacing to the Knicks’ starting lineup, but also because the energy Hart brought off the bench lifted the second unit. That group has now fallen flat.
With Immanuel Quickley also likely out for Game 4 with an ankle injury, the Knicks will need other players to step up off of the bench and deliver. When asked if that could include Evan Fournier and/or Derrick Rose, Thibodeau said, “Everything’s on the table.”
However, the key should be anything that allows the Knicks to get better looks from the field.
In Game 3, the Knicks shot just 34.1% from the field and only 20% from beyond the arc, which continues a really poor-shooting playoffs. In the series, the Knicks have shot 13.8% of their threes in tight coverage, hitting 19.4%. In contrast, 20.1% of Miami’s three-point attempts have been classified as “wide open,” which means no defender within six feet. That’s the second-most of any team in this round of the playoffs, and they are shooting 36.5% on those shots.
New York must create a gameplan to get open looks because their offense has been stagnant and playing into Miami’s hands.
None of this seems to bode well for the Knicks, but they won the regular season series against the Heat by 3-1 and can be the better team if they get back to doing what they did well all season. That means inserting Grimes back into the starting lineup and trying to get out in transition to create easy looks.
With so much on the line, we should expect a physical game, with tons of defense, so I like the under on 206 points here and also taking the Knicks to cover +4.5 with the season essentially on the line.
For more Knicks coverage, visit amNY Sports
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