Heat Take 3-1 Series Lead over Knicks

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Photo from Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

By Shawn Stewart

The Miami Heat are one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time in four years.

Butler led Miami with 27 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals. He set the tone with a pull-up 3 for the game’s opening bucket. Adebayo added 23 points and 13 rebounds. Max Strus continued to thrive in his role as a starter with 16 points and 6 assists while shooting 4-of-10 from long distance.

There the Heat went cold with 1-of-9 start from the field. But it didn’t matter. They gave themselves repeated second chances with three offensive rebounds during the stretch while holding New York without a field goal for the first 4:08 of the stanza. By then, the Heat led 95-84, and the Knicks never recovered. Julius Randle fouled out on a charge with 3:08 remaining, all but closing the door on a New York rally.

The Heat found and hit open shots. Miami was ranked 27th in the league in 3-point shooting during the regular season with a 34.4% success rate entered Monday’s game trailing just the Boston Celtics for the second-best rate in the playoffs at 39.2%.

They trusted their deep ball again on Monday in a high-volume effort that saw them hit 13-of-39 (33%) from beyond the arc. It wasn’t their best effort, but they managed four more made 3-pointers than the Knicks (9-of-26). And they repeatedly declined to settle for contested shots while working to find the open shooter.

When they missed, they attacked the glass, securing 13 offensive rebounds on their 45 misses. They shot 47.1% from the floor while attempting nine more field goals (85) than the Knicks (76).

New York countered with a 48.7% shooting night from the field, led by a 32-point, 11-assist performance performance from Jalen Brunson despite a concerted Heat effort to deny him the ball. But the Heat outscored the Knicks by 12 points from long distance while securing a 44-35 edge on the boards.

Kyle Lowry, moved to the bench after a late-season knee injury, set the tone for the second unit with 15 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 26 minutes. He shot 4-of-6 from the field and hit 2 of his 4 3-point attempts.

Randle added 20 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out, while R.J. Barrett tallied 20 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists. The Knicks will look for big games from both of them in New York as they look to fend of elimination in Wednesday’s Game 5.

You can follow Shawn Stewart on Twitter @S4AStewart and Instagram @S4AStewart

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