The Knicks need their bench to step up in Game 3

Immanuel Quickley, New York Knicks
Jan 2, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley (5) shoots over Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) in the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks leveling the series at one game each was crucial for their confidence as they head to Miami for the next few games. Despite their significant victory, there are still some areas they need to improve before Thursday’s game. One key aspect is that the bench must be more involved offensively, and they need increased contributions from key role players.

Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley experienced breakout seasons, with their playing time increasing significantly year over year. Quickley was even a front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year award, although he ultimately fell short of Brogdon. Despite their undeniable talent, the duo scored a mere nine points on 4-10 shooting in the Game 2 win.

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The Knicks’ bench must provide a more significant spark:

Although Grimes is not as offensively focused as Quickley, he needs to find his shot to maintain his presence in this series. The Heat and Knicks are well-matched, as both teams play a similar style of basketball, focusing on defense leading to offense and capitalizing on turnovers in transition. Grimes excels as an on-ball defender, while Quickley is the superior offensive player. Quickley played only nine minutes in Game 2, so Thibodeau may give him more court time in Miami.

In last night’s game, the Knicks’ bench scored a total of 12 points, while the Heat outscored them 22-12. Although not a massive difference, it highlights the need for some Knicks players to step up and make more shots. Obi Toppin shot the ball only twice in the win and played for a brief 10-minute span. Thibodeau was content with running the starters for most of the game, but this should not be the case for every game in this series.

For the Knicks to continue winning in the playoffs, everyone must step up in some capacity. The bench may well be the key to the entire series. It is evident that Brunson and Randle will lead the offense, with RJ and Hart contributing on both sides of the ball. However, the bench was an integral part of their regular-season success, particularly during the latter half. Teams with excellent depth often outperform teams with a few stars, as exemplified by the Heat.

The Knicks have the potential to succeed in this series and perhaps go even further, but they need an all-hands-on-deck approach. A 1-1 series is not the same as being up or down 2-0, but it essentially means the series has reset as they head to Miami. With South Beach buzzing before Game 3, the Knicks must silence the noise. The bench, especially IQ and Grimes, needs to deliver more than they have so far. It’s New York or nowhere, even in South Florida.