3 reasons for Knicks letdown in Game 1 of East Semis vs. Heat

The Knicks lost Game 1 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2023 NBA Playoffs. Here’s what went wrong for New York.

Rather than setting the tone at home in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis against the Miami Heat, the New York Knicks droppedthe series-opener at home on Sunday afternoon, 108-101.

In the second half, the Knicks couldn’t buy a bucket and looked completely out of sync on the offensive end of the floor. That allowed the Heat to erasea five-point halftime deficit and eventually steal Game 1 on the road.

Jimmy Butler was hobbled with an ankle injury in the second half of this game, which is a crucial factor to monitor as each team looks to stay alive in the NBA Playoffs, as is the status of Knicks star Julius Randle, who missed Sunday’s game.

But for now, let’s break down what went wrong for the Knicks in this game to put them in an early series hole against Miami.

Knicks: 3 reasons for Game 1 loss to Heat in East Semis

3. Knicks offense went cold in the fourth quarter

The Knicks struggled in the fourth quarter of this game, managing only 26 points. While they only scored 20 points in the third quarter, the offense looked objectively worse in the final period, particularly in the late minutes of the action. As Ian Begley noted, New York only had one field goal in the final five minutes in this game.

Clearly, that is not gonna get it done in this series. The Knicks looked good offensively in the first half. A lot of what forced the Knicks to struggle in the second half was the play of R.J Barrett.

2. R.J Barrett struggled in the second half

Barrett played noticeably poorly in the second half on Sunday. He was a dreadful 4-of-13 from the floor in the second half, including going 2-of-6 in the fourth quarter.

It seemed like, for a bunch of possessions in the fourth, he was hogging the ball and driving toward the lane. He would proceed to get owned by Miami in paint. In the first half, he had a really good showing with an efficient 13 points, but that went by the wayside down the stretch and his ineffective offense was a key factor in why New York is down 1-0 in the series.

1. Knicks 3-point shooting was horrible

The Knicks struggled from deep against the Heat, shooting just 20 percent from the 3-point line. The worst offenders were Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart, who went 0-for-7 and 0-for-4, respectively, on Sunday. It was the second half when the ice-cold shooting was the most notable, though.

Miami gave good looks to the Knicks from 3-point range and New York couldn’t make them pay for it. The gameplan seemed to be to get open looks in the corners from Brunson and Barrett driving and kicking the ball out. Open shots were there but, especially in the final two quarters, the Knicks couldn’t convert.

The Heat were allowing the Knicks to shoot from three and Knicks couldn’t make them pay for it.  It seemed that part of the gameplan that was to let New York shoot from three off the corners and such off Brunson and Barrett drives. The Knicks were able to get open shots off this strategy but couldn’t hit them quite simply in the second half.



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