Knicks showed a lack of poise in Game 1 loss to Heat
The Miami Heat are a different animal than the Cleveland Cavaliers. They are a battle-tested team that will not shrink when the moment is big like the Cavs did. The Knicks will have to execute better and play smarter basketball if they want to win this series.
The edges the Knicks had against the Cavs are not there against the Heat. The main reason the Knicks beat the Cavs is their dominance on the offensive glass. The Cavs ranked 20th in defensive rebounding while the Heat ranked 4th. Bam Adebayo can neutralize Mitchell Robinson and it showed in Game 1.
Tom Thibodeau had a huge coaching edge against JB Bickerstaff, but he won't have that same advantage against Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra is one of the best coaches in the NBA and made the adjustments needed in Game 1 to beat the Knicks as they were outscored by 12 points after halftime.
The Heat role players came up big against the Knicks in Game 1, something that the Cavs role players never did. Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin were excellent, while Kyle Lowry was in complete control of the game down the stretch.
The Knicks biggest problem in Game 1 and in the playoffs overall so far is their poor 3-point shooting. They shot 27.6% in Game 1 from 3, right in line with their average of 26.8% so far in the playoffs. If this doesn't improve the Knicks are not winning the series.
That pales in comparison with how well the Heat have shot the 3 in these playoffs. They shot 33.3% in Game 1, better than any shooting game the Knicks have had in the playoffs. The Heat shot 48% from 3 in their wins against the Bucks in the 1st round.
This hot 3-point shooting is not sustainable and gives me optimism that things will start to turn the Knicks way later in the series. Miami had the 25th-best offense in the NBA during the regular season and are missing one of its best offensive players in Tyler Herro. They are due for some negative regression.
Hopefully, the Knicks will settle into the series because they played frenetically in Game 1. RJ Barrett and Jalen Brunson put up decent numbers but turned the ball over way too much. They did not play a smart game as a team either. Jimmy Butler was hobbling around the court the last 5 minutes of the game and the Knicks never attacked him on defense.
Kevin Love's outlet passes were another thing that bothered me about Game 1. Multiple times he beat the Knicks with full-court outlet passes before they made the adjustment. It was uncharacteristic to see the Knicks so unprepared.
The biggest questions going into Game 2 are the health statuses of Julius Randle and Jimmy Butler. The Knicks need Randle's shotmaking vs the tough Heat defense. I think the Knicks goal was to sit Randle until Game 3 to give him an extended rest but the loss may force them to play him. The Heat can afford to rest Butler after stealing Game 1 and I expect he will sit.
Some other things I am looking for is how each team's 3-point shooting goes. The Heat are due for some regression as they have been red hot. The Knicks need to hit more 3s. I would like to see Quentin Grimes get more than 10 minutes of playing time in Game 2 as he is one of the Knicks best 3-point shooters.
I also would love to see Immanuel Quickley be aggressive on offense. He has played tentatively so far in the playoffs and the Knicks desperately need his offense and playmaking.
The Knicks need to come out poised and match the Heat's intensity level in Game 2. It's easier said than done but they need to hit open 3 point shots. The Knicks have bounced back from tough times before this season and I expect they will in Game 2. This is going to be a long series. We are just getting started.