Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Wary of Josh Hart, Knicks Offensive Rebounding

Josh Hart, New York Knicks

Getty Josh Hart and Isaiah Hartenstein of the New York Knicks celebrate after Hart drew the foul in the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Miami Heat‘s Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra knew exactly how the New York Knicks‘ operate–winning the possession game by keeping their turnovers low and crashing the offensive glass.

So, on top of their defensive game plan against Jalen Brunson’s crafty shotmaking and playmaking, Julius Randle’s bully ball if he’s healthy, and RJ Barrett’s resurgence around the rim, Spoelstra has also marked Josh Hart for his penchant for grabbing the offensive rebounds, especially down the stretch.

“It is a challenge for sure because [Hart] has the aggressiveness, but also, there’s a timing to the way he does it,” Spoelstra told reporters after Saturday’s practice. “It’s not as if he’s doing it in the normal cadence – the shot goes up, then you crash, you block out – he almost waits for you to turn your head, and then he just goes. And it just seems like he’s had the big ones. It’s not the gaudy numbers of the offensive rebounding even though he’s top 5 for wings, but it’s the critical ones in the fourth quarter.”

Hart is pulling down 1.8 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, tied with centers Mitchell Robinson and Bismack Biyombo in the playoffs.

The Knicks are the best offensive-rebounding team in the playoffs, thanks to Robinson, who leads all players in the playoffs with 5.8 per game, and Hart, who leads all guards with 2.4 per game.

While Spoelstra is wary of it, they already had a head start before the playoff began.

“We also have had some emphasis on this from the Atlanta play-in, the Toronto game before that, and then Milwaukee [playoff series], that was a point of emphasis,” Spoelstra added. “It doesn’t mean we’re conquering it, but it’s something that we’ve been really trying to drill into and get better at. And that’ll be vital. Obviously, it’s pretty clear that this will be a possession series. And they’re well-schooled, don’t turn the ball over, and get themselves second opportunities, extra possessions, that help them drive that possession game.”

Quentin Grimes, Julius Randle listed Questionable for Game 1

Quentin Grimes and Julius Randle are trending toward returning for Game 1 of the second round of the NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs against the Miami Heat on Sunday.

They are initially listed as questionable, but barring any setback, both will be playing in Game 1, according to Tom Thibodeau via New York Daily News’s Stefan Bondy.

Randle’s case appears to be more severe between the two hobbling Knicks. But Thibodeau assured reporters they would not force Randle to play.

Stephen A. Smith Calls out Kenny Smith for Heat Pick

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith labeled TNT’s Inside the NBA analyst Kenny Smith’s pick for the KnicksHeat series as “blasphemous.”

Smith, a Queens native who was a high school star in New York before embarking on a 10-year NBA career that produced two rings with the Houston Rockets, picked the Heat to win over the Knicks.

“Just as an aside, to my brother Kenny Smith–Queens in the building, Queens in the building. Kenny Smith, TNT, the blasphemy this man picked Miami,” Stephen A. Smith said on the April 27 episode of “First Take” on ESPN. “I was ashamed. It’s a betrayal to New York, but I’ll hold it down, New York.”