Knicks vs. Heat score, takeaways: Jimmy Butler, Miami continue NBA playoff upsets, take Game 1
Butler -- who was hobbled late -- along with Gabe Vincent and Kevin Love's passing got Miami a win
The Miami Heat, fresh off one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history, continued their postseason hot streak with a 108-101 victory over the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday. The hostility of a New York crowd excited to be watching second round basketball for the first time in a decade didn't seem to phase the Heat, who flipped the script in the second half after trailing by five at halftime.
As he did throughout the first round, Jimmy Butler led the way for Miami in Game 1 against the Knicks. In 35 minutes of action, he tallied 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Butlerwith about five minutes remaining in the game, but he stayed in and finished it out. He didn't look quite right afterward, though, so his health will certainly be something to monitor as the series moves forward.
RJ Barrett paced the Knicks with 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, while Jalen Brunson added 25 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Their combined production wasn't enough to help the Knicks avoid falling into an 0-1 hole without Julius Randle, who missed the game with an ankle injury. His status for the rest of the series remains in question.
The Knicks will now have to find a way to regroup and bounce back pretty quickly, as Game 2 in the series is set for Tuesday night. Before moving ahead to that game, here's a look at three key takeaways from Miami's Game 1 win.
1. Knicks didn't capitalize on a hobbled Butler
Despite the fact that he remained in the game, Jimmy Butler clearly wasn't feeling 100 percent after he injured his ankle in the fourth quarter of the contest. He was moving very gingerly, and didn't display his usual explosion. On offense, he was used largely as a decoy in the closing minutes, standing in the corner in order to draw a defender while other actions occurred near the middle of the floor.
The Knicks weren't able to capitalize though, as the Heat scored on several possessions with Butler simply standing around, and on the other side of the floor, they didn't test Butler by putting him into pick-and-roll action. Instead, they allowed him to guard guys on the perimeter. The score was 95-92 when Butler got hurt. Miami went on a 9-2 immediately after, and outscored New York 13-9 the rest of the way to pull out the win in what feels like a bit of a missed opportunity for New York.
2. Vincent stepped up for Miami
Heading into this series, the Heat needed other players to step up around Butler in terms of point production, and Gabe Vincent did exactly that in Game 1. Vincent came out with an aggressive mindset, and his early production helped to keep Miami's within striking distance when the rest of the offense was sputtering. Vincent had eight points in the first quarter, and he added six more in the second to total 14 in the first half. His scoring dropped off in the second half as some other guys started to pick up the slack, but he still managed to knock down a couple of timely triples -- one in the third quarter and one in the fourth. Vincent also added five assists and a pair of rebounds to his 20-point stat line. Together, he and Butler combined for 45 points in the contest.
It was the second straight impressive performance from Vincent, who also dropped 22 points in Miami's closeout game against Milwaukee. The Heat have to hope that he can keep it up.
3. Kevin Love, outlet pass master
The third quarter is when the momentum -- and technically the game -- swung in Miami's favor. The Heat outscored New York 24-11 out of the halftime locker room, and Kevin Love's outlet passes were a central aspect of the run. Love has long established himself as a master of the outlet pass, and that skill was on full display on Sunday.
Early in that third quarter, Love had not one, not two, but three beautiful outlet passes that led directly to relatively easy transition baskets for Miami. Butler was the recipient on two of them, and Max Strus finished off the other. You can see all three of them here:
It was the second time in Love's career that he recorded three separate assists that traveled at least 60 feet in the game. No other player in the league has done that over the past 10 seasons.
Those easy baskets helped to open up the floodgates for a Heat team who struggled to score in the first half. Those passes weren't Love's only contributions. He also added nine points and five rebounds in his 16 minutes of action. If he can continue to provide productive minutes for Miami, it will be a big boon for them throughout the series.
That's a wrap. Heat take a 1-0 lead in the series after a 108-101 win over the Knicks in New York. It was an impressive performance by the Heat, who have only lost one game in the postseason so far.
The Heat basically just using Jimmy Butler as a decoy down the stretch here. He's just been standing in the corner and letting other guys go to work.
The Heat needed other guys to step up around Jimmy Butler in this game. Gabe Vincent has done that. He's up to 20 points and he has hit some big shots for the Heat in this one.
Jimmy Butler is staying in the game. We will have to keep an eye on how he looks after that injury scare.
Butler's status moving forward, not just in this game but for the entire series, is obviously of major importance.
Jimmy Butler appears to have just twisted his ankle. He's down on the ground in some obvious pain.
The Heat are now in the bonus with over 5 minutes remaining in the game. Their ability to convert could have a major impact on the outcome.
Kevin Love made some NBA history in this one with the length of his passes.
Kyle Lowry has had a solid game off of the bench for Miami here. He's still got some game in him.
Third quarter action underway in New York.
After three quarter of action, the Heat lead the Knicks 81-75. Miami outscored New York 31-20 in the third quarter.
This is why people call the NBA a "make or miss league." The Heat couldn't make their shots in the first half and they were down, then they started making some shots in the second half and they now have the lead heading into the fourth quarter.