Hyde5: Lowry, Heat’s bench come up big against Knicks in Game 4 win
On a night the stars on both teams put up numbers, Game 4 was decided by a place the Miami Heat remains surprisingly (and strategically) strong: The bench. The Heat lost Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo to injury earlier these playoffs. Coach Erik Spoelstra still played 10 players in the Heat’s 109-101 win and the impact was obvious.
Heat bench scoring: 32 points.
Knicks bench: 10 points.
There’s your game, folks. That’s the short answer to why the Heat moved to a 3-1 lead and one win from the Eastern Conference finals.
Kyle Lowry continues to be Playoff Kyle, or Healthy Kyle, with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 26 minutes. It’s a strategic decision to have him come off the bench considering he played more minutes than starting point guard Gabe Vincent (22 minutes, 3 points). It’s a role he’s accepted well, too. Caleb Martin also had 10 points and five rebounds in 26 minutes while providing the kind of defense that makes him important. But what this series is showing is the Knicks don’t have the kind of depth you need in a tough series.
2. The Heat kept taking punches from the Knicks, who weren’t knocked of their game. Jalen Brunson had 32 points, 11 assists and just one turnover. Julius Randle was good-not-great, scoring 20 points but having six turnovers before fouling out with a few minutes left. Throw in R.J. Barrett scoring 24 and that would be a good script for the Knicks to ride to a win. But they just don’t have enough against the Heat. The Heat’s big names did plenty as Jimmy Butler had 27 points, including 18 in the second half, and Bam Adebayo (see below) had an impactful game. But the depth was key this game.
3. Quick hits:
* Every game, Spoelstra brings out a new defensive wrinkle. The obvious one this game was to have Vincent deny the ball to Brunson all the way down the court to try to wear him down. Brunson still had a big game. But the Heat made him work for it.
* The Heat had seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter to frustrated the Knicks. They entered Monday ranked 14th of the 16 playoff teams in averaging 8.5 offensive rebounds for games this postseason.
* Does anyone get away with drawing fouls that aren’t fouls like Lowry?
* The Heat’s now 4-0 at home in these playoffs.
4. Adebayo is coming on these playoffs. He had 23 points and 13 rebounds in the kind of game where he brought the physicality to fill the box score. He started strong, taking the ball aggressively to the basket to have 16 points and nine rebounds in the first half. He always brings the defense and the athleticism to cover more ground than any other player most nights. His offense wasn’t as impactful in the second half, but he hit a 14-foot shot to make it 106-97 with a couple of minutes left. This was Adebayo’s second straight double-double after having two in the first seven playoff games. Maybe he’s hitting his stride at just the right time.
5. Finally, there’s the Jalen Rose Weather Report to apply to Game 4. As the Heat won Saturday’s Game 3, Rose said on ESPN, “We talk so much about the nightlife and joke about it in Miami, but … when you’re the road team, you’ve got to pay attention to that weather and that heat. It affects the endurance of your muscles and causes tiredness. If you’ll notice, the Knicks, in particular, are making shots in the paint but they’re missing shots outside of the paint, in particular from three.”
It was a cool 77 degrees outside in Monday’s fourth quarter.
The Knicks shot nine of 25 from 3-point (a decent 36 pct.)
Then again, the Knicks were shooting over 50 percent before shooting 6 of 18 in the fourth quarter. Maybe their legs gave out?
Maybe it’s the weather?
Or it’s just the Heat.