Jimmy Butler returned from his sprained right ankle to score 28 points, Max Strus added 19 and the Heat topped the New York Knicks 105-86 on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in their East semifinal series.
“It’s about figuring out how to compete at a really high level,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “What’s necessary for that game to be able to win.”
For as poorly as the Heat shot, the Knicks were worse — 34% from the field, 20% from 3-point range, 46% from the restricted area around the rim.
And that was the story.
“You’ve got to win games different ways,” Heat guard Kyle Lowry said. “In the playoffs, like I’ve said many a time and for many years now, every game is seriously different. And this is one of those games where we held them down. ... To win by half a point, one point, two points, 20 points, it’s about winning the game however it happens.”
“We couldn’t get stops early so we couldn’t get any easy buckets,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So, we paid the price.”
Bam Adebayo had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Miami and Lowry added 14 points as the Heat never trailed. Duncan Robinson opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, giving Miami an 11-point lead — and the lead remained double digits the rest of the way.
“Hopefully we can get back on the right track and find a way to make some shots next game and come out with a win,” Randle said.
There was even a Heat-Knicks dustup under a basket, just like the good ol’ days of the teams’ playoff rivalry — though this one was nothing like P.J. Brown flipping Charlie Ward in 1997 to start a bench-clearing mess that led to suspensions, or Jeff Van Gundy tugging on Alonzo Mourning’s leg in 1998.
The 58 first-half points by Miami were the most for a team by halftime of a Heat-Knicks playoff game. The Heat had 57 in the first half vs. New York on April 24, 1998. New York’s most by halftime in a playoff game against the Heat is 55, set in Game 1 of this series.