Jimmy Butler was back in effect for Game 3 of the Miami Heat‘s conference semifinal series with the New York Knicks on Saturday. And while the contest was anything but pretty to watch, his impact was nonetheless palpable on both sides of the court as Miami strangled the life from Tom Thibodeau‘s team in a 105-86 affair.
With or without Butler on the floor, though, the Knicks have looked like the inferior club throughout the series, and it’s getting hard to see a scenario in which they right the ship, regardless of how Ben Stiller feels about it.
Julius Randle has been a shell of himself, averaging 17.5 points per game and shooting 36.4% from the floor against the Heat. RJ Barrett has been hugely negative in the series (with a net rating of minus-15.3). The team’s injury situation is getting precarious, too, as Immanuel Quickley is doubtful to play in Game 4 with a sprained left ankle and Randle and Jalen Brunson are contending with ankle issues of their own.
Tom Thibodeau Leaves the Door Open for Derrick Rose & Evan Fournier to Play vs Heat
Asked in the wake of New York’s Game 3 loss whether he would consider throwing Rose and/or Fournier into the mix in an effort to stop the bleeding, Thibodeau made it clear that he’s not ruling anything out with his team trailing the Heat two games to one.
“Everything’s on the table. We’ll see how it unfolds,” Thibodeau said, via SNY’s Ian Begley.
Bringing either player off the bench at this juncture would represent a seismic personnel shift for the Knicks. Although he received a smattering of minutes during the team’s final four regular-season games, Fournier hasn’t been a regular part of Thibodeau’s rotation since November, and he has yet to appear in a playoff game.
During the regular season, he averaged just 6.1 PPG and shot 33.7% from the floor across 27 appearances.
Rose, meanwhile, was similarly benched in December and has seen less than five minutes of total court time since New Year’s Eve. He also appeared in 27 games for the Knicks, averaging 5.6 PPG and connecting at a 38.4% rate.
The idea that either can be a difference-maker against the Heat seems pretty improbable. However, seeing an old Sunshine State fave and/or a former superstar could be a treat for the South Beach faithful.
Heat PA Announcer Shreds Analyst for Bad Twitter Joke
You can count The Athletic’s John Hollinger among those pulling for the Heat’s return to the Eastern Conference Finals. The former Memphis Grizzlies exec and statistics guru turned analyst doesn’t want everyone involved with the team to move on to the next round, however.
“Ideal outcome for this series is if Heat advance but their PA guy is eliminated, right?” Hollinger tweeted.
Needless to say, Heat PA announcer Michael Baiamonte didn’t appreciate the shot. So, he took it upon himself to absolutely shred Hollinger in response.
“Hey @johnhollinger,” Baiamonte fired back. “Since I’ve been in this league for the last 32 seasons you’ve been eliminated in plenty of jobs. I’ve been much better at my job than you have been in any of yours….loser!!!!”