The New York Knicks and the Miami Heat will face off in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday. This is a rebirth of a classic rivalry, with both teams having to fight their way through each other to reach the Eastern Conference finals in the past. Although the enmity that once existed may not be present among the current players, the fans of the two teams still hold strong memories of those intense showdowns. Both teams have their historic beef, but a trip to the Eastern Conference finals is at stake.
For the Knicks-Heat matchup, there are some key points to consider. Jimmy Butler helped the Miami Heat author a comeback from a 16-point deficit in Game 5, and his onus will be on Butler to lift the Heat in Tyler Herro’s absence. New York has a few big-bodied athletic wings to potentially throw at Butler, but Thibodeau will presumably send more double-teams at him. The Knicks hope to have Julius Randle on the court, but he must recover from a sprained ankle. If Randle does play, smaller Heat defenders compared to Cleveland bigs should help him.
Miami has been hot on 3-point shooting during the playoffs, which is crucial to its success. This will put pressure on Heat shooters, such as Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, Kevin Love, Gabe Vincent, and Kyle Lowry, to keep burying triples. New York dominated the offensive glass in the first round, but this is unlikely to continue against Miami’s defense. The paint battle could hinge on Love, who remains an excellent rebounder and shooter. Adebayo’s effectiveness alongside Butler will be key.
Although the Knicks-Heat enmity may not be present among current players, Sunday’s matchup will be one to watch. Knicks-Heat clashes have resulted in many unforgettable memories over the years, and both teams have plenty of historic beef going into this game. Nevertheless, both teams aim to get to the Eastern Conference finals, making this a potentially explosive match.