The New York Knicks are looking to get back in the win column against the Miami Heat on Friday after a 117-100 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves interrupted their three-game winning streak. Here’s what to watch for in their third In-Season tournament game.
Knicks: Force the Heat into Spot-Up Looks & Contain Stars in Isolation
The Heat excel as the most efficient team in isolation. Conversely, they are not the best at converting spot-up looks. Sharpshooter Duncan Robinson will need to be played hard in the half-court and as a trailer on the break, which Quentin Grimes will likely get the assignment on.
However, most of Miami’s isolation points come from Bam Adebayo on the elbows and Jimmy Butler throughout the midrange. If the Knicks can contain both star players and force the Heat to get up shots late in the shot clock, they’ll have a good chance of stymying their offense.
Knicks Must Win Individual Matchups
The Knicks’ big men tandem of Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle have a size advantage over Bam Adebayo and Hayward Highsmith. Robinson has been electric on the offensive glass and has the opportunity to continue his domination against an athletic yet undersized Adebayo.
Meanwhile, Randle has been picking up steam on offense after a slow start to the season and can flex his muscle on combo-forward Highsmith in the post and while attacking the basket.
Jalen Brunson will be tasked with fending off pesky defender Kyle Lowry in the half-court. Brunson likes to take his time in finding his spots inside the arc. Lowry’s antics and defensive IQ allow him to draw fouls in the most creative of ways. Brunson may have to pick up the pace and make quicker decisions with Lowry likely to hound him from whistle to whistle.
Brunson had his two worst performances against the two best defenders he’s faced thus far in Jrue Holiday (Boston Celtics) and Russell Westbrook (Los Angeles Clippers). He was able to bounce back with a 26-point performance against Holiday in their second head-to-head matchup, which is an encouraging sign.
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Get the Edge in the 3-Point Battle
The Knicks have been a high-volume three-point shooting team in the early parts of the 2023-24 campaign. They are pitted against a Heat team with Robinson as the focal point of their outside attack. Though Butler and Adebayo are non-factors from deep, their ability to draw defenders makes life easier for Robinson, who thrives off of catch-and-shoot as well as one and two-dribble pull-up looks off of screens.
The Knicks bested the Heat 3-1 in their season series last year while breaking even from three in three of the four games played. However, the Heat no longer have deadeye Max Strus, but will welcome back Kevin Love from a one-game absence.
If New York can out-shoot Miami, they’ll have a great shot at besting an elite Eastern Conference foe while overtaking them in a chance to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.