The Miami Heat pulled off a historic upset in round one of the 2023 NBA playoffs. They became the first team to ever win a series after making it out of the play-in tournament. Along with this, they also became the fifth team in NBA history to ever knock out a top-seeded team in their conference after being the eighth seed. The Heat were carried on the offensive end by Jimmy Butler who put on a masterclass through the first round. In game four, Butler set a Miami Heat playoff scoring record with a 56-point outburst. This becomes an even more impressive feat when taking into account that players like LeBron James and Dwyane Wade spent a considerable amount of time with the Heat, and he accomplished this against the Milwaukee Bucks who were one of the best defensive teams in the league.
Despite taking down the top-seeded Bucks in only five games, the Heat still entered their series against the New York Knicks as underdogs. They currently find themselves in a tied series at 1-1 with the next two games taking place in Miami. They were without superstar Jimmy Butler for the second game of the series, and Miami was unable to fend off the Knicks without him. With his availability still up in the air for game three, many to wonder if the Heat have what it takes to pull off another upset in round two.
In game one, the Heat narrowly defeated the Knicks by a final score of 108-101. Butler would lead Miami in points with 25 and rebounds with eleven. Kyle Lowry had an incredible performance off of the bench, outsourcing New York’s entire bench by himself by three points. Along with this, he led the Heat in assists with six.
On the flip side, R.J. Barrett stepped up and had a 26-point performance for the Knicks, leading the team in scoring. Mitchell Robinson would continue his rebounding tear from round one and led the Knicks with fourteen. Barrett and point guard Jalen Brunson would tie for the most assists with seven each. The Knicks did not get much scoring production out of their bench unit. As previously mentioned, the three backups that saw playing time for New York were all outscored collectively by Kyle Lowry by three points. For the Knicks to keep up with the Heat once Butler makes his return, they will have to put a strong focus on bench scoring.
In game two, the Heat would be without Jimmy Butler due to a sprained ankle that he suffered in game one. Without him in the lineup, the Heat were missing out on their leading scorer, and while role players like Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent both stepped up with 20-point performances, it was not enough for Miami to win the game. The Knicks would take the game by a final score of 111-105.
Martin would lead the team in points with 22, Bam Adebayo and Martin would tie for the most rebounds for Miami with eight each, and Adebayo and Kyle Lowry would lead the facilitating effort with six assists each.
Jalen Brunson would once again show shades of the player that made his presence felt in the first round and led the Knicks with 30 points. Julius Randle was a force to be reckoned with in this contest, finishing the game with eleven rebounds. Josh Hart finished the game with a team-high nine assists. While the Knicks’ bench was still outscored by the Heat’s, 12-22, it did not end up making a difference.
Jimmy Butler is set to return to action in game three. His presence alone will lead to New York changing up their defensive scheme. If Butler is able to come back fully healthy and play at the same level he has been through the 2023 playoffs, the Heat have a very strong chance of taking advantage of home-court advantage.
With the next two games set to take place in Miami, and their start returning, the Heat are in a very good place to head back to New York with a 3-1 lead in game five.
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