Five Takeaways from Heat’s Series Clinching Win Over Knicks

It wasn’t the prettiest basketball game of all time, but it was pretty typical Heat-Knicks.

They come up with the win, and the Heat are off to yet another Eastern Conference Finals.

Some takeaways from game 6…

#1: Bam Adebayo steps up in a major way.

Walking into this game 6, the Heat knew they needed an early punch in this game offensively from somebody, mostly focusing on that guy being no other than Jimmy Butler. He had a decent first quarter, but the true X-Factor was Bam Adebayo who came out absolutely firing. A 17 point first half, and it came in a multitude of ways. Elbow catches and jumpers, rim runs for crafty dunks, and pure strength in the low post. That last one is what set the tone, since he wasn’t afraid to use some body against both Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. The energy shifted from there, as he made highlight plays on both ends to spark the group who went down 14 in that first quarter. He stepped up in a major way tonight, and saved it from slipping.

#2: Dealing with Jalen Brunson..

As much as I talked about Adebayo’s hot first half, Jalen Brunson was the guy who really took individual control in the opening 24 minutes. He had a 22 point first half, but the bigger key was the way Miami didn’t really seem to have an answer to his early punches. The Heat were actually switching up match-ups by possession, flipping his time with Gabe Vincent and Jimmy Butler to start. The only issue was that he was mostly operating against one of them at a team, meaning that Miami probably needed to send more doubles his way. He got comfortable, got off some good shots, and the Heat pretty much said they would just hold everybody else off for the remainder of the half. That somehow clawed them to a 1 point lead at the midway point.

#3: Three-point shooting still reflecting regular season.

As we watched that Milwaukee Bucks series and kept an eye on the Heat’s playoff three point shooting landing them in the 1 spot of that category, it was clear things were odd in the department of logical trends. We’ve seen the Heat decline back down to 31% across this series, and found themselves below 17% at half. Yet while it’s a great addition to their offensive blend that they most certainly need, they don’t seem as reliant on it as they once were during the regular season. That’s probably the most crucial part of it that makes them somewhat confident in the offense moving forward. High usage Butler and Bam obviously leans in that direction already, but it’s just been one of the oddest things to monitor throughout this season.

#4: Jimmy Butler watch: the ankle and the doubles.

All eyes have been on Jimmy Butler after that game 5, mostly since there’s been curiosity looming on how his ankle is feeling at the moment. Part of it is Quentin Grimes doing a good job on him, and the other part is he lacks that continued push in that post to overpower his opponent. That screams some soreness on the ankle, but hey that’s not up to me to guess. The part I do know about is the doubles Butler is seeing on a consistent basis. Mid-post, he’s seeing that second guy. Low-post, he’s possibly seeing a third guy. Catch on either wing, a Knicks big is aggressive sprinting to make him give it up. The respect levels were at an insane high, but the Heat’s primary option was going to be needed. The usual counter: middle PnR eliminates as strong of doubles. But now things loop back to the ankle, since those restrictions may hold that back.

#5: The fourth quarter…

The first 4 minutes of this quarter was ugly. Scott Foster made more highlight plays than the Knicks and Heat combined. Looking a little physical on one end down low, and a screeching whistle reoccurring on the opposing baseline. With over 7 minutes to go, Adebayo hits a needed elbow jumper off the inbound to extend it to 3. The next time down, Butler sees another double, ball moves to the opposite corner, Vincent drives and kicks, Strus top of the key triple. 82-76, 6:56 to go. The free throw frenzy continued throughout the quarter for the Knicks, really cutting any momentum Miami tried to hold. Butler and-1’s, Lowry flip shots, and more. The Heat’s clutch time file from the regular season felt like it was building up to this point. Knicks call timeout with 3:24 left, trailing by 6. Right away, Brunson hits the pull-up triple. Butler comes back with a pull-up jumper, Lowry strips it on other end, and Strus gets fouled at the rim as they push some pace. 2:20 left, Heat up 6. A Vincent flagrant foul put things right back on New York’s plate, as they had a chance to tie with 20 seconds left, only down 2. Heat force the turnover, and Butler goes to the line. 2 for 2. Miami’s on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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