May 7, 2023 | 1h14
MIAMI — The Knicks’ dominance at center was a major factor in their impressive first-round playoff win over the Cavaliers.
That’s holding them back so far, though, in the second round against the Heat.
Mitchell Robinson has yet to make an impact, and in Game 3 Miami’s Bam Adebayo was dominant, far outplaying Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein.
Adebayo was one of the keys to the Knicks’ 105-86 rout of Miami, producing 17 points, 12 rebounds and one block.
Together, Robinson and Hartenstein combined for just two points and eight rebounds. Robinson played 14 minutes.
“He was just more physical,” Hartenstein said of Adebayo. “I think that has always been a big thing for us. …I thought it was more on our side, we just weren’t locked in on certain moments. They got all the balls 50-50, they were always there rotating and I think we were always a bit slow.
Disappointing play from the Knicks’ big men led coach Tom Thibodeau to move to a small-ball formation in the fourth quarter, with Julius Randle and Obi Toppin up front.
It didn’t yield many positive results.
With 14.1 seconds left in the third quarter, tempers flared a little after an Immanuel Quickley basket.
Miami’s Cody Zeller pushed Randle to the ground and technical fouls were called on Zeller and Hartenstein, while the Heat’s Caleb Martin was assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul.
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“I will protect my teammate no matter what,” Harenstein said. “I saw him push Julius to the ground and no matter who it is, I’m always going to protect my teammate. That’s what I thought was necessary at the time.
Asked about the incident, Randle said it was irrelevant to the game.
The Knicks have been outscored in eight of 12 quarters in this series. … Their 86 points were a playoff low, and their least this season. … It was only the second time in eight playoff games that the Knicks had been passed. They lost the battle on the boards, 50-48.
Sometimes the obvious answer is the right one.
Six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler returned after missing Game 2 with a sprained ankle and scored a game-high 28 points in 36 minutes to help the Heat take a 2-1 series lead.
Take your pick, really, from the Knicks, who played a dreadful game, but their big three scorers Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett shot a combined 16-for-51 from the floor and 2-for-17 from 3-range. points.
All-Star center Bam Adebayo was unhappy with his performance in Game 2, but he topped the Knicks down-low combo of Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein on Saturday with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
Robinson and Hartenstein combined for two runs, eight boards and six personal fouls.
20.3: The Knicks’ shooting percentage from 3-point range (15 for 74) in their two losses in this series, including 8 for 40 in Game 3.
In their only victory, they shot 40% from 3 points (16 for 40).
— Pierre Botte