The Knicks have a massive challenge ahead against Miami

julius randle, knicks
May 10, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) is guarded by Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) during game five of the 2023 NBA playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks may currently trail in the series, but they are undoubtedly not out of contention. Overcoming a 3-2 deficit is no simple task, but this team is made of sterner stuff. It is facing adversity and surmounting obstacles that truly define a team, rather than effortlessly dispatching opponents. When the going gets tough, only the strong survive. I believe this Knicks team is prepared for the challenge and can still emerge victorious in this series.

Ultimately, it comes down to who wants it more, and last night, the Knicks demonstrated their greater desire. They increased the tempo, executed fluid basketball in both full-court and half-court situations, and relied on their key players to deliver.

Brunson played the entire 48 minutes, a decision that may have made Derrick Rose anxious, but it proved to be the correct call by Coach Thibodeau. When Brunson is on the court, the team operates cohesively and as a unit with a leader. Jalen Brunson is among the best players remaining in the playoffs, and he has demonstrated this time and again.

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Everyone must contribute if the Knicks wish to advance:

If the Knicks can secure consistent production from their Big 3—Brunson, Randle, and Barrett—I genuinely believe they can mount a comeback and win the series. The Heat entered the playoffs as the No. 8 seed and had to battle through the play-in round, but they have persevered. New York must remind them of that fact and employ gritty, high-energy play. If they can wear down their opponents, they can secure the win. In Game 5, they exhibited just that, achieving crucial stops and outperforming Miami at their own style of play.

Role players must also fulfill their responsibilities, and individuals like Josh Hart cannot afford to accumulate multiple fouls in the first quarter if they wish to have a positive impact. Although the flagrant foul called against him was not egregious, he must still play smarter to support his team. He is one of the best defenders on the team, plays with a unique energy, and leads the second unit with his presence on the court. Hart is instrumental to the team’s success, as he has been since his acquisition midseason at the trade deadline.

Other players, such as Grimes and Robinson, who see significant minutes in crucial games, must continue to provide a spark for the team. Robinson may not consistently score 20 points per game, but his presence in the paint significantly contributes to the Knicks’ victories. He can score just 7 points yet have a greater impact on the game than anyone else on the court. His defensive prowess and ability to protect the rim and congest the lane make him a formidable threat. I believe he will play a crucial role as the series progresses, and hopefully, beyond.

The Knicks can still win this series, provided everyone steps up and does their part. It is a team game, and the Knicks excel at team basketball, even when isolating Randle and Brunson. Every player has a role; even those not logging substantial minutes must be supportive and energetic on the bench. It is vital that the team feels united as one, and when the Knicks draw energy from their teammates, they play a superior brand of basketball. A 3-2 deficit is not the end, so the Knicks must use it as fuel to ignite their fire.