The Knicks’ poor shooting and inept offense have been at the forefront of New York’s 2-1 loss against the Miami Heat in the Easter Conference semifinals.
Ask Julius Randle, RJ Barrett and Tom Thibodeauthough, and the potential solution to the team’s woes starts with a heightened sense of urgency entering Game 4.
“I think we’re confident,” Randle said on Sunday’s pregame teleconference, ahead of Monday’s 7:30 pm tip-off in Miami. “It’s just we’ve got to execute, come out with a certain level of aggression, physicality and find a way to win a game. It’s not going to be easy.”
“Typically, the most aggressive team wins,” Randle added. “You’ve never seen a game where it’s a tie score. It’s not football. So, typically, the most aggressive team wins. They probably have more of an edge coming off a loss — so, hopefully, we come out like that tomorrow.”
Like Randle, who scored 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting in 38 minutes of Saturday’s 105-86 Game 3 loss, Barrett understands the Knicks’ need to respond — just as the Heat did last Tuesday’s 111-105 Game 2 defeat. .
“They’re at home and they just lost, and they’re sitting a couple days on a loss, so expected them to kind of play that way,” said Barrett, who scored 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting in 25 minutes of Game 3. “Sometimes that happens. It happens in the playoffs. … It’s not the end of the world. Just got to understand the intensity of this matchup and bring it to them next game.”
In Game 2, Miami was without its star, Jimmy Butler (sprained ankle), who returned with a vengeance for Game 3, scoring 28 points on 9-of-21 shooting and a 10-for-11 mark at the free-throw line over 36 minutes.
“I think that’s sort of the nature of the beast this time of year, in playoff situations,” Thibodeau said. “Teams that lose the previous game usually come out with a lot of intensity in their own, so we knew that would happen. Thought that Jimmy Butler was very aggressive to start the game. And then we got in a hole early, and they played from a lead, so we have to be a lot more aggressive.”
After a wire-to-wire defeat, how much do the Knicks ultimately take away from Game 3? While adjustments are sure to be made, Randle delved a bit deeper into the team’s mindset.
“You take emotions out of it,” Randle said. “You learn from the game before. It’s not one you can typically flush away, but you learn from before what you can do better and mentally prepare for it, do what you’ve got to do to prepare for it. But this is something we’ve all been doing our whole lives, so one game is not going to determine how we feel for the next game or what we think the future’s going to be.
“Every game is different. We have to treat it as such and do our best to prepare for each game.”