On Friday, the No. 8 Miami Heat shocked the No. 5 New York Knicks to advance to their first-ever conference finals.
Despite a huge effort by Jalen Brunson and the New York Knicks, the Miami Heat won Game 6 at the Kaseya Center in Miami by a score of 96-92 thanks to the play of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.
The eighth-seeded Knicks made it to the NBA Finals in a season cut short by a lockout in 1999.
The Heat won the Eastern Conference semi-finals 4-2 behind the play of Butler (24 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists) and Adebayo (23 points, 9 rebounds). The Miami Heat will play the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers. On Wednesday, the Eastern Conference Finals get underway.
The Heat undid Brunson’s valiant effort. Behind playing all 48 minutes of Game 5, he showed early signs of recovery with a highlight-reel fade away. In a playoff game, Brunson scored 41 points, the highest ever scored by a Knicks guard. He made 5 of 10 3-pointers and 14 of 22 field goal attempts.
Knicks Take Early Lead Behind Barrett’s Aggression, Heat Stage Comeback
For the Knicks, R.J. Barrett’s aggressive play in the paint resulted in three fouls in only seven minutes. After being fouled by Kevin Love with 5:29 left in the first quarter, he was back at the line. Barrett went 8 for eight from the charity stripe to give the Knicks a 17-14 lead.
After Brunson sank a jump shot from 26 feet with 3:43 left, all eyes turned to Julius Randle.
Even though Caleb Martin fouled him on his way to the hoop, Randle still managed to score a layup and add a point from the charity stripe. Randle scored twice in a row with the help of Brunson after Josh Hart grabbed a defensive rebound and set him up for a midrange shot.
After Randle’s run put the Knicks up 31-17 with 2:40 left in the first, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra called timeout.
After the timeout, the Miami Heat went on a 7-0 run, with Kyle Lowry’s two free throws after being fouled by Hart being the highlight. On the opposite end, Butler grabbed a board, which led to a 3-pointer by Lowry. Then, after being intercepted by Martin on a terrible pass from Randle, the Heat scored quickly thanks to Butler’s fast jumper. However, by the end of the first period, the Knicks led 31-24.
Heat Capitalize on Brunson’s Rest, Adebayo Ignites Scoring Surge
Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau rested Brunson for the first time since Game 4 two minutes into the second quarter. Brunson hardly had time to catch his breath before the Heat made the most of their opportunity.
Adebayo went on a scoring tear to help the Heat take a 37-36 lead with 7:48 left in the second quarter. After Isaiah Hartenstein fouled him, he hit both free throws, then scored on a jump shot and a slam.
Adebayo and Butler Shine as Miami Heat Edge Knicks in Intense Playoff Battle
Adebayo scored again in the closing minute of the half to give him 17 points at the break, but Brunson answered with a floater of his own. He was penalized for a foul with fewer than 30 seconds left in the half. Despite only making two 3-pointers in the half, the Heat took a 51-50 lead because to Max Strus’s free throws.
Both Brunson and Barrett started the third quarter with three fouls. The Knicks started the period 0-for-6 from the field while losing two key players to foul trouble.
Butler’s stellar performance helped push the Miami Heat to a fourth-quarter lead of 74-71.
To become the first Knick since Patrick Ewing in 1990 to score at least 30 points in three consecutive playoff games, Brunson went 3-for-6 from the floor and assisted on a basket in the final period.
After Butler made an and-1 midway through the quarter, Miami’s advantage ballooned to its largest of the game, 84-76.
When it looked like the Miami Heat were going to cruise to victory, a key call with 59.5 seconds left nearly flipped the momentum back toward the Knicks.
After review, the hit to Brunson’s face by Gabe Vincent was graded as a flagrant 1, putting him in the penalty box. Brunson hit two free throws and then fed Josh Hart for a basket, bringing the score to 92-90, Heat.
Hart grabbed Butler’s missed shot to save the Knicks. The Knicks fouled after Lowry stole. Butler made two free throws in 14.4 seconds. Brunson’s garbage-time slam ended the Knicks’ season after Quentin Grimes’ missed 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds.
After surviving the play-in tournament and shocking top-seeded Milwaukee in the first round, the Heat will play in their third Eastern Conference finals in four seasons.
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