3 adjustments Knicks can make in Game 2 against Heat in 2023 NBA playoffs
The Knicks found themselves on the wrong end of an upset playoff win, dropping Game 1 at home to the eighth-seed Heat.
While New York was without All-Star Julius Randle, the game was well within reach -- and the Knicks ultimately succumbed to self-inflicted harm.
Here are three adjustments they can make to even up the series Tuesday night...
1. Turn around the outside shooting
New York has not been proficient from behind the arc in the playoffs, shooting 28.2 percent from deep in the first round -- the worst clip of all postseason competitors. That streak carried into Game 1, where the Knicks were 7-of-34 shooting from deep -- many of which were wide open looks.
The simple "adjustment" would be to shoot better. Jalen Brunson was an uncharacteristic 0-for-5, RJ Barrett went 1-for-5 and Immanuel Quickley 1-for-4.
These might turn around on their own, but there are changes available to Tom Thibodeau that could bump the shooting up as well. One would be giving Josh Hart some more rest.
Hart has averaged a nice percentage from taking one or two treys a night, but Miami is effectively ignoring him on the perimeter -- where he shot 0-4. He played 43 minutes, assuring the Knicks would constantly have two non-shooters on the court, butchering spacing and their chances at connecting on more looks from deep.
Conversely, Quentin Grimes only played 10 minutes despite hitting a three early. He hasn’t shot the ball well but is known to get hot with volume and would be regarded higher as a threat.
New York has more shooters to play if it’s willing to -- and do so together.
2. Attack with purpose
Three-point shooting wasn’t the only hiccup in the Knicks' offense. They often got too lackadaisical getting into their sets and settled for isolations over anybody. Miami’s defense is too advanced and tough to approach freelance. While Thibs switched things up during the contest, there’s plenty left on the table.
New York needs to be more assertive attacking the individual weak points in Miami’s defense -- specifically guys like Kevin Love and Duncan Robinson. Where Brunson and others spent the Cavaliers series exposing them for playing two defensively challenged guards, Sunday saw a submission to what the Heat wanted.
Despite scoring and being guarded by Love, Obi Toppin was hardly used as a screener -- especially up high, where guys could hurt Love in space and away from extra help. This issue was never clearer than when the Knicks refused to go at a hobbled Jimmy Butler, effectively playing on one leg for the final five minutes.
The Knicks also need to be cognizant of what good looks are available to them. Many of their rough shooting and turnovers in the second half were due to continually pounding it inside when Miami adjusted to collapse the paint and give New York outside looks.
If that’s the strategy in Game 2, the Knicks need to drive to pass and be ready to look for shooters. The Heat will adjust again, and in turn, the Knicks need to identify it and change their attack accordingly.
3. Limit silly turnovers
One takeaway from Game 1 was that Miami looked like the poised, experienced team. Images backing that up included Brunson weirdly bobbling and losing the ball multiple times, and Knicks driving into red jerseys with no plan.
Most of these mistakes were self-inflicted, leaving plenty of room for improvement. The Knicks simply need to be sharper and not make as many boneheaded plays.
Some technical adjustments are available, too. Miami caught them sleeping a few times off rebounds, so New York will need to better secure loose balls.
Butler used his back tap after getting screened to poke some balls away from ball-handlers and caught the Knicks being sloppy at times. They’ll need to be more attuned to his antics, and cut down on over-dribbling in transition.