The Miami Heat and New York Knicks are mirror images of each other stylistically.
But the Heat have the hottest player and a head coach who is as strong as anybody on the sidelines left in this NBA postseason.
In many ways, the matchup issue in this series was actually unveiled in New York’s lone win in the series, because in Game 2, it took the Knicks everything just to get by a Heat team playing without Jimmy Butler.
Now, Miami has firm control of the series after the Heat wore down the Knicks on Monday, winning 109-101 to take a 3-1 lead.
What does this mean? History suggests the end is near for New York:
The Heat are 14-0 when leading a playoff series 3-1.
The Knicks are 0-14 when trailing 3-1.
Miami is doing to the Knicks what New York did to the Cavaliers physically, as the Heat commanded the glass to a level that the 44-35 output doesn’t even fully reveal. New York gave up four offensive rebounds in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter.
Butler continued his elite level play and ability to close in this postseason, scoring 18 of his 27 points while posting six of his 10 assists in the second half.
Bam Adebayo had one of his best nights of the postseason yet, abusing the Knicks’ ball screen coverage and giving them nightmares with 23 points and 13 rebounds.
But beyond that duo, the Heat have had so much more depth than the Knicks in this series. Outscoring New York 32-10 in bench points on Monday night, Miami moved its advantage in that column to 54 points at 116-62.
Six-time All Star and 37-year-old Kyle Lowry has been so steady off the bench, dropping in 15 points, five rebounds and four assists in the win. Caleb Martin continued to play in his X-factor role for Miami, adding 10 points.
Tom Thibodeau would do anything to find that level of production right now, but the Knicks are so reliant on Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle to a point that it doesn’t feel like 5-on-5 at times in this series.
Brunson scored 32 points to go along with 11 assists, while Barrett added 24 and Randle posted 20, but the Kentucky product fouled out in 39 minutes.
The Knicks are playing hesitant basketball against a Miami team that ranked ninth in the regular season with a defensive rating of 112.8.
The Heat are playing with supreme confidence, a direct credit to Spoelstra, who has run circles around Thibodeau in this series.
The biggest evidence of that confidence? It’s pretty clear: 3-point shooting.
If you had a game plan entering the postseason to dare Miami to shoot, you would have been in the right. The Heat were 27th in the NBA in 3-point shooting in the regular season at 34%.
In the postseason — get this — the Heat are shooting 41% from beyond the arc. That’s the best mark in the league.
This team has been driven by one of the 15 best coaches in NBA history, Spoelstra, and a bunch of undrafted guys are embracing their roles and performing at an insanely high level.
McDonald’s All-Americans be damned. The Heat are melting away the Knicks season, and they’re as dangerous as anybody left in this postseason.
You want to be in a tight game with Butler on the other side and Spoelstra on the whiteboard?
Didn’t think so.
John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.
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