When speaking to the media after the game, Heat star Jimmy Butler discussed the difficulties his team faced when attempting to guard Julius Randle, crediting the Knicks All-Star for being a genuine all-around player.
“Julius is a tough cover for anybody,” Butler said. “Bam, myself, Caleb, Gabe, Kyle, because he’s constantly in attack mode, and he does everything so well on the basketball floor. He’s like the true definition of an all-around player.”
Unfortunately, from the Knicks, Randle was a shadow of the player we usually see, struggling to score the ball and looking disinterested on the defensive end. Still, Randle ended the contest against Miami with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 2 assists while shooting 26.7% from the field, going 0-of-5 from deep.
RJ Barrett Sounds Off After Disappointing Night
Randle wasn’t the only member of the Knicks rotation to struggle against the Heat, as RJ Barrett had a night he will quickly want to forget, ending the contest as a game worse -32 in the plus/minus, and appearing to force the issue on offense.
Following the game, Barrett spoke to the media in the locker room, where he stated that he will continue to be aggressive on the offensive end, regardless of who is guarding him.
“I don’t care who’s guarding me; I’m gonna try to play,” Barrett said. “So, you can look at it that way. You can also look at it like maybe if you get them in early foul trouble, it might change the game. No matter who is in front of us, we just gotta play our type of basketball.”
Barrett finished the game against Miami with 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist on 31.3% shooting from the field, and 28.6% shooting from the field, as he struggled to convert his scoring opportunities, leaving the Knicks searching for an offensive rhythm.
Tom Thibodeau Rues Offensive Struggles
According to Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, his team’s defense wasn’t the issue against Miami; instead, he believes their offensive output is what led to New York suffering a heavy defeat in game three of their Eastern Conference semi-finals series.
“I thought defensively; we were solid. But I thought offensively; we didn’t play the way we wanted to,” Thibodeau said. “And I don’t put it on any one player because I think it’s done collectively. And if we have three guys in the right spot and one guy not, the whole unit suffers. So everybody has gotta do their job, they gotta understand what their job is, and you gotta do your job.”
Following their defeat, the Knicks now trail the Heat by one game and will be looking to even the score when the two sides do battle in game four, which is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 8, at the Kaseya Center in Miami. Should New York lose their next game, they will surrender control of the series to Miami and need to win three straight games to progress to the NBA finals – a tall order for any team in the league.