Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The shorthanded Knicks needed to control a must-win Game 4. Instead, they continually played from behind as the rival Heat rolled to a 109-101 victory and a 3-1 series lead.

Miami straight outplayed the Knicks. They showed cohesion while New York could never quite get in a rhythm. Instead of the league’s worst offense, the Heat looked like an unstoppable force and not the No. 8 seed.

Game 5 is set for Wednesday in front of what should be a fiery Madison Square Garden crowd.

Some takeaways:

Tom Thibodeau’s big mistake. Immanuel Quickley’s sprained ankle kept him out of Game 4 and in the days leading up to it, coach Tom Thibodeau said “everything was on the table,” even playing benchwarmers Evan Fournier or Derrick Rose. Playing Fournier would have been a great strategy. He spent over six years with Miami’s division rival Orlando Magic and has shot almost 40% from three for his career against Erik Spoelstra’s defenses.

And with Quickley out and the Knicks needing a boost, Thibodeau turned to…Miles “Deuce” McBride. He can barely defend at the NBA level, let alone shoot. Fournier, meanwhile, rode the pine and hasn’t played since some garbage minutes in the regular season finale last month.

There’s no guarantee Fournier would have come into a game after a long layoff and lit up the scoreboard. But in a must-win game where points are needed, a streaky shooter is still better than a non-factor.

Bench boostThe Knicks’ bench, or lack thereof, continued to be a problem in Game 4 and Thibodeau not playing Fournier was just one piece of the puzzle. Miami’s bench scored 32 points to the Knicks’ mere ten. Meanwhile, Quickley’s status for Game 5 is far from certain.

A weak bench performance doesn’t negate 16 turnovers, but the Knicks’ starters can only do so much. With or without Quickley, the bench needs to be better.

Bam batters the boards. Percentage wise, the Knicks and Heat were actually fairly even all game. The difference was on the glass, where the Heat flipped the script and dominated the Knicks 44-35. Miami also had 13 offensive rebounds to the Knicks’ eight.

Mitchell Robinson just couldn’t keep up with the more athletic Bam Adebayo, who finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds. This marked two games in a row where the Heat out-rebounded the Knicks. That can’t happen in a must-win Game 5.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.