Sat, 03 Jun 2023

Heat resume 'March Madness' playoff push vs. Knicks

Field Level Media
22 Mar 2023, 05:19 GMT+10

Two games, two crucial last-second shots, two New York Knicks victories -- by two points each.

The Knicks will visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday, resuming a rivalry with a rich history.

New York is 2-0 against Miami this season, beating the visiting Heat 106-104 on Feb. 2 as Miami's Tyler Herro missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Knicks were missing two starters in that game -- point guard Jalen Brunson and center Mitchell Robinson -- but RJ Barrett stepped up to give New York a team-high 30 points.

On March 3, Miami hosted the rematch, and the Knicks prevailed 122-120 on Julius Randle's go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left.

"A lot of energy," Randle said after that game. "Friday night in Miami."

Randle has played with energy all season, averaging 33.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists in the two games against Miami. For the season, Randle leads New York in scoring (25.6) and rebounds (10.2), ranking second in assists (4.1).

On Monday, Randle scored a career-high 57 points in New York's 140-134 home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Randle scored a team-record 26 points in the third quarter.

Randle shot 19-for-29 from the field and 8-for-14 on 3-pointers, producing New York's first 50-point game since Carmelo Anthony in 2014.

"It's a shame to waste a performance like that," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Both the Knicks and Heat have won three of their past four games.

Miami beat host Detroit 112-100 on Sunday as Herro scored 10 of his 19 points in the final 3:20.

"Tyler has the clutch gene," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He lives for those moments."

The Heat, who are 24-13 in Miami this season, are home for two games this week, including Saturday's matchup against Brooklyn.

After that, the Heat will hit the road again, including a March 29 matchup against the Knicks that will conclude their season series.

"This is going to be March Madness and April Madness," Spoelstra said of Miami's final nine regular-season games. "The opportunity (to make the playoffs) is right there in front of us."

In Miami's two games against the Knicks this season, Herro is averaging 27.0 points and 7.0 assists, Bam Adebayo is averaging 25.0 points and Jimmy Butler is at 21.0 points.

For the season, Butler leads Miami in scoring (22.7) and steals (1.9). Adebayo leads in rebounds (9.4) and ranks second in scoring (21.1). And Herro ranks third in scoring (20.2) and assists (4.3).

Herro may have to guard Brunson, New York's crafty point guard who leads the Knicks in assists (6.2) and ranks second in scoring (23.8). Brunson is shooting 83.6 percent on free throws, 51.3 percent on 2-pointers and 41.3 percent on 3-pointers.

The Heat will also watch out for two key members of New York's bench -- Josh Hart and Immanuel Quickley.

New York is 12-4 since acquiring Hart from Portland on Feb. 9. Hart is averaging 11.1 with the Knicks, and he is one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA. Quickley is New York's top bench scorer, averaging a career-high 13.7 points.

Miami's current bench construction includes Kyle Lowry, who leads the team in assists (5.2); Max Strus (11.7 scoring average), Caleb Martin (10.1 ppg) and Victor Oladipo (10.1 ppg).

--Field Level Media

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