The New York Knicks have faced challenges in their second-round matchup against the persistent No. 8-seeded Miami Heat, losing Game 1 without Julius Randle and securing a victory in Game 2 while the Heat were missing Jimmy Butler.
Both games were fiercely contested, with the outcome often determined in the final minutes and marked by intense physicality. Some players, such as RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson, have risen to the challenge, but the Knicks need others to step up in Game 3 on Saturday.
Three players who need to step up for the Knicks:
Immanuel Quickley has struggled this postseason. The Sixth Man of the Year runner-up is averaging just 8.6 points on 35.2% shooting from the field in seven games played this postseason.
In Game 2 on Tuesday, he had a notably quiet performance, scoring only six points and playing a team-low nine minutes, indicating that Head Coach Tom Thibodeau is using him in less critical situations than before.
Three-point shooting has been a challenge for the entire team this postseason, particularly for Quickley, who is shooting just 24.1% from beyond the arc. If he can improve his outside shot in time for Game 3, he could potentially play a significant two-way role against a Miami team that may see Jimmy Butler return to the court.
A strong performance from Quickley would also help restore his on-court confidence and provide the Knicks with more options, allowing the main starters to rest during games.
Quentin Grimes’ first NBA playoffs have proven challenging. He missed Games 4 and 5 of the first round against Cleveland due to a wrist injury and lost his starting position to Josh Hart upon his return at the beginning of Round 2.
Furthermore, he is averaging a mere 3.6 points per game and has posted disappointing shooting splits of 23.5%/14.3% in five postseason games, despite playing approximately 20 minutes per game.
The solution for Grimes in Game 3 is straightforward: make his three-pointers. Grimes shot 39% from beyond the arc during the regular season, contributing to a faster-paced offense and exceptional spot-up shooting.
Miami has numerous guards and wings who play physically, but Grimes performed some of his best games against the Heat this season, averaging 16 points and shooting 50% from three-point range in four regular-season games.
It is crucial for Grimes to remain confident and continue shooting. Good shooters usually overcome slumps, and the four-day rest period between Games 2 and 3 could benefit Grimes, allowing him to refine his shooting technique.
Mitchell Robinson has had a relatively strong postseason debut overall but encountered difficulties in Game 2 on Tuesday when he got into foul trouble early and struggled to counter the balanced attack from Miami’s smaller lineup.
In just 20 minutes of play in Game 2, Robinson recorded only six points and five rebounds and had no blocks or steals, a rarity for the big man.
Fortunately for the Knicks, Isaiah Hartenstein filled the void left by Robinson with crucial offensive rebounds in the final stretch of Game 2. The Knicks will need Robinson to step up in Game 3, which begins with limiting fouls and maintaining a strong interior defense.
If Robinson can achieve that, he could have a massive bounce-back game, leading to a dominant performance in the interior, an area where he excels when on form.
The Knicks will undoubtedly be seeking standout performances in Game 3. If the aforementioned players step up, they could be in an excellent position to win at least one road game before returning home next week.
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