Tom Thibodeau, Knicks hat off in Heat’s epic playoff run, entry to ECF

Following their Game 6 second-round downfall, Tom Thibodeau can only hand his regards and warm congratulations to the Miami Heat for a job well done of continuing to author their Cinderella story in this year’s NBA Playoffs.

“Congratulations to the Heat, to the organization, to the coaching staff, Spo and Pat Riley and all their players,” the New York Knicks coach said Friday. “They played tough in this series and hats off to them. But I’m proud of our guys. There’s always disappointment in the end of the season and in the end, there’ll be one team standing. 

“We take what we learned from it, get away for a little while, decompress. Proud of the way this team worked all year.”

With Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle pacing them, the Knicks managed to beat all odds and expectations after earning the East’s fifth-seed and overwhelming the much favored Cleveland Cavaliers back in their first-round battle. But they can only run through a Heat team that is blazingly hot to fulfill their mission.

Miami, the eighth-seeded team of the Conference, shocked the world as they ousted the title-favorite in Milwaukee Bucks last first-round. Behind the leadership of Jimmy Butler, the battle-tested squad went on to book their third trip to the Conference Finals in four seasons. 

They become the first eight-placers since the 1999 Knicks to occupy a seat to the Conference Finals in the league’s playoff record books.

“Just got to give them a lot of credit. They didn’t play like an 8 seed — at all,” Brunson said. “They were unbelievable. The utmost respect for them and that organization. I liked the way we fought.”