For the tenth time in their history, the seventh since Erik Spoelstra sits on the bench and the third in the last four seasons, the Miami Heat are back in the conference finals. The road to get there has been the toughest in their history, as these Heat are only the second eighth seed to do so in NBA history after the 1998-99 New York Knicks, who eliminated Miami that year in the NBA. first round — with the Florida franchise thus closing a circle.
He succeeds above all thanks to his stars, Jimmy Butler (24 points while shooting 7/22 from the field) and Bam Adebayo (23 with 9 rebounds), accompanied by 14 by Max Strus and 11 with 9 assists by Kyle Lowry from the bench to come back from a bad first quarter, in which the guests had even gone 14 lengths ahead thanks to a perfect 11/11 from the line. However, as soon as Miami regained defensive discipline, it quickly returned to the game, even if it seriously risked throwing it away in the final.
Up by 6 with one minute remaining, Gabe Vincent hit Jalen Brunson in the face in an attempt to break free to receive the throw-in, giving away two free throws and possession to the opponents, able to immediately go to -2 with a quick basket by Josh Hart. After a defensive stop, the Knicks put the equalizer or overtaking ball in Brunson’s hands, but doubling down on the baseline, the New York point guard looked for an adventurous pass into the center area, deflected by the Miami defense for the recovery that closed the accounts.
It is basically the only mistake, however heavy, of an exceptional evening by Brunson, the only reason why the Knicks came to play not only in the last minute, but in general until game 6. For him in the end there is his career high tied in the playoffs with 41 points, scoring 14 of 22 shots attempted with 5/10 from three and 8/9 with free throws. The problem, if anything, is that all of his teammates put together have made 51, with Randle (15+11 but with 3/14 shooting) and Barrett (11 with 1/10 shooting) unable to score against the Heat.
“Congratulations to the Heat, the organization, the coaching staff, Spo, Pat Riley and all their players,” said Coach Thibodeau after the loss. “They’ve played hard in this series and you have to take your hat off. But I’m proud of my players and how we’ve worked. There’s always disappointment at the end of the season but only one wins the title.” “You have to give them credit: they didn’t play anything like an eighth seed,” added Brunson. “They were incredible. But I liked how we fought.”