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After embracing latest dose of Heat ‘culture’, Knicks need to win in the worst possible way


MIAMI — If it looks familiar, it is. The Knicks have lost three games that look almost identical to this one last spring. They’ll even play the Heat for a while. The Heat will take the lead. The Knicks will try to fight back. The Heat will try to fight back. The lead will be extended and the Knicks will launch a final push against them.

The Heat will resist, and the Heat will win.

It happened three times in three games at the Kasea Center in the Eastern Conference semifinals last May. It happened again on Tuesday night, Final 109-99.

The Knicks looked like they were going to be crushed. They eventually tied the game at 92 with less than four minutes left in the game. But they were out of breath. They had used up all the energy pills and were back. Not enough to get the job done.

Same script, different days.

Rinse, repeat.

After the game, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said, “We played well in the second half and performed well.” He then complained nightly about referees regularly swallowing whistles when Jalen Brunson is involved. felt regret. ”.

Very short at the end.

rinse.

repeat.

Isn’t it a little extra annoying to lose to a team that actually had the guts to wear a jersey with “HEAT CULTURE” stitched on the front? of course. Isn’t it more annoying to dribble past the giant “HEAT CULTURE” sign that happens a hundred times every game in the middle of the Estadio Casea? Of course.


Jalen Brunson got into an argument with referee Natalie Sago during the Knicks’ 109-99 loss to the Heat. Associated Press

But before the Knicks — or anyone else — knock the Heat off their sanctimonious pedestal, they have the right to boast about their culture and revel in their self-righteousness. Because until proven otherwise, the Heat are a nasty team. The Knicks found this out a year ago — so did the Bucks, and so did the Celtics.

The Heat have spent much of the year doing what the Heat usually do. They have some injuries. They lost some puzzling games. A week ago they looked fine, buried in play-in territory, and now they look like they’ve woken up once they can get a whiff of the playoffs. Maybe being literate isn’t enough this year.

But someone has to prove it first.

“They’re a good team,” Josh Hart said, “and you always knew that coming in here.”

And they also peaked at the right time, which is probably the most infuriating if you’re a Knicks fan. It’s easy to identify the Knicks’ peak moments this season. It was Saturday night, January 27, at Madison Square Garden. The last time the Knicks and Heat met, the Knicks beat them 125-109, two days after the Knicks crushed the Nuggets by 30 points.


During the Knicks' loss, Tom Thibodeau argued with referee Courtney Kirkland over a call.
During the Knicks’ loss, Tom Thibodeau argued with referee Courtney Kirkland over a call. Associated Press

But it was also the night Julius Randle mistakenly landed on his shoulder. This was the final night before OG Anunoby succumbed to elbow pain. It was the last night the Knicks felt complete, even if they still missed Mitchell Robinson. The Knicks were 29-17 that night and have been consistent ever since. They’re 15-14 since then, and it seems like a miracle that they’ve won that many games.

It would be great if the Knicks can breeze through the rest of their schedule, especially since the top nine every night looks like they just stumbled through a marathon. But this is impossible.

“Some teams have the luxury of building a big cushion,” Thibodeau said. “Those teams, you can rest players. For a lot of teams, you can’t. Especially teams that are short-handed throughout the year. You Gotta find the right guy.” Way to win games. “

Especially right now, when the No. 3 seed is looking more like a pipe dream, and when you wake up Wednesday morning and the Knicks are just two games away from No. 7 — that’s going to be a double whammy, because not only do you have to win your Victory, but also victory. Your first game heading into the playoffs is likely to be against the Joel Embiid 76ers.

That’s why the Knicks’ next game, Thursday night against the Kings at the Garden, resembles the first must-win win of the year. It’s not easy. The Knicks’ roster is still short, and the Kings need just as much as the Knicks need in the East and their prospects in the West.

But at some point you have to stop the bleeding. It’s now three consecutive defeats. All three games the Knicks either led or were tied with less than four minutes remaining. No one ever doubted that they were fierce rivals. But here’s the thing, it’s drifting to one side now.

It was good to get out of Miami and get away from that culture for a while. It’s better to get some wins and hope that January 27th is a false peak. However that may seem fanciful now.



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