Reasons behind the Knicks’ Game 1 defeat to the Heat at MSG

jalen brunson, knicks

The New York Knicks‘ dismal shooting performance cost them an early series victory on Sunday, as they succumbed to the Miami Heat 108-101 in Game 1 of the second round of the playoffs.

Playing without All-Star Julius Randle due to an ankle injury, the Knicks shot a woeful 7-34 from beyond the arc during the game. Despite their shooting struggles from the opening tip, they entered halftime with a five-point lead, including an efficient 15 points from Jalen Brunson and a 12-point lead at one stage in the half.

The situation truly deteriorated in the second half, as a few crucial shots from Heat players Kyle Lowry, who contributed 18 points off the bench, and Jimmy Butler, coupled with some missed open looks for New York, sealed the Knicks’ fate.

The Knicks need to bounce back in Game 2:

Obi Toppin, who started in place of the injured Randle, scored 18 points and connected on four three-pointers in the loss. He also grabbed eight rebounds. Toppin was the only Knicks player in Game 1 to hit multiple three-pointers. However, he saw limited time on the court in the second half due to a lack of composure on both ends of the floor.

Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett combined for 51 points but shot a mere 1-12 from beyond the arc. Brunson, in particular, was only 1-10 on shots outside the paint.

“Today I was horrific,” Brunson admitted postgame. “Very uncharacteristic of me, and this one’s on me. I got to get better.” Jalen Brunson via NY Post

Josh Hart was the only other Knick to reach double figures, scoring 10 points on 5-12 shooting. The Knicks’ bench managed just 15 points compared to Miami’s 30.

Quentin Grimes returned to the lineup after missing the last two games of Round 1, but he contributed only four points in 10 minutes of action off the bench.

The absence of Julius Randle was pivotal to the Knicks’ struggles, but they have had difficulty with three-point shooting throughout the postseason. They are hitting just 26.8% from beyond the arc in six playoff games this year.

Jimmy Butler has enjoyed an exceptional postseason, and while he did score 25 points in Game 1 on Sunday, it seemed as if the Knicks still had a decent chance to secure a victory at Madison Square Garden.

To win the series, the Knicks must find a way to convert their outside shots and prevent Jimmy Butler from truly dominating.

Otherwise, their season may be in jeopardy if they do not turn things around soon.

New York aims to even the best-of-seven series on Tuesday with Game 2 at MSG before heading to Miami for Games 3 and 4. Randle’s availability for Game 2 remains uncertain. The Knicks sorely missed their All-Star in Game 1, and now Knicks fans anxiously await positive news regarding Randle’s condition.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @DylanBacker_

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