It’s almost as though Jimmy Butler’s face at the closing seconds of Game 2 were foreshadowing. The Heat came out as advertised in Game 3 and shut the Knicks down quickly.
New York rallied here and there but was never in control of the game at any point, and now might be down a key player. Monday’s Game 4 isn’t your ordinary must-win and should be another chippy and physical game.
The Butler does it. It doesn’t matter that he seemed to re-injure his ankle in the second half. Jimmy Butler put Miami on his back and led the way with 28 points. He also didn’t seem too bothered by his ankle, drawing his fair share of contact and making 10 of 11 free throws.
In our series preview, I mentioned Jimmy Butler’s high potential for some big games this series. That’s not to say 28 points on 9 of 21 shooting is by any means great, but Butler is a hard worker who always leads by example. His motor is what makes the Heat go.
The Knicks need to slow him down if they’re going to win Game 4.
Miami Ice. To say the Knicks didn’t show up in Game 3 would be an understatement. After shooting 34.1% from the field and a paltry 20% from three, the team might as well be back in New York. Even worse is that the Heat’s shooting only got worse over the course of the game and was at 38.9% at the buzzer.
The difference is unlike the lost, lifeless vessels resembling the Knicks, Miami hit the early shots that mattered most. They set the tone and now have control of the series, and the Knicks won’t have an easy time wrestling it back.
Heal Quickley. Adding injury to the insult of this game was the Knicks losing a key player. Immanuel Quickley was lucky to walk away with just a sprained ankle after Heat center Bam Adebayo landed on his leg while the two chased a loose ball. Quickley finished the game with 12 points and a pair of threes, but shot just 4 of 12.
Tom Thibodeau didn’t offer any update on Quickley’s status for Game 4. It doesn’t really help that he’s had a rough series. Quickley is shooting an awful 18.8% from three and playing five minutes less a game.
Regardless, he is still the Knicks’ most reliable three-point specialist and best bench player. New York needs him healthy and effective if the Knicks are to tie the series.