The Knicks achieved victory last night, defeating the Cavs in five games to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Now, they must prepare to face a red-hot Jimmy Butler and the Heat, aiming to keep their playoff dreams alive.
Butler has been utterly dominant this postseason, easily becoming the best performer in the entire first round. The Knicks’ challenge is to contain him and allow their defense to generate easy transition opportunities.
The Knicks must focus on containing Jimmy Butler
Throughout the Cleveland series, the Knicks demonstrated their defensive prowess. As a team, they consistently switched, varied their looks, and Robinson emerged as a formidable force in the paint. In the five games of the first round, they allowed over 100 points only once. If they can maintain this level of play against Miami, they may secure their spot in the next round swiftly.
Butler’s performance against the Bucks was spectacular, and in the series-clinching Game 5, he was the sole reason for their victory. He scored the game-tying shot in regulation before taking control in overtime and ending the Bucks’ season. Butler averaged 37.6 points per game, with 6.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He also shot an impressive 60% from the field while making 44% of his three-pointers. To have any chance of winning this series, the Knicks must find a way to limit Butler’s impact.
The Bucks were the Eastern Conference favorites, while the Heat barely made it through the play-in tournament. However, that no longer matters and the Heat now have a giant target on their backs. The Knicks have been playing outstanding basketball recently, with a strong team effort from all players. Robinson excelled in the last game, scoring 13 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, along with three crucial blocks.
New York will need every player to contribute in this series, and hopefully, Julius Randle can find his rhythm. In Game 5, he spent most of the night on the bench due to injury, as Coach Thibodeau opted for a more cohesive unit that didn’t sulk when shots weren’t falling. Randle played only 16 minutes, finishing with 13 points on 4-9 shooting. For the Knicks to succeed, they need their former All-NBA player to perform at his best.