After Saturday’s 33 point victory, the Miami Heat knew they were going to see a much more competitive New York Knicks team in game two. For nearly three quarters they did, but the Heat started to pull away by ending the third frame on a 6-1 run.
The nine-point lead they built at the end of that second to last quarter would never dissipate and Miami cruised to a 104-94 win to take a 2-0 lead in the series. They struggled to find their mark from three all night, but the Heat were 4-6 from deep in the fourth quarter, which kept the Knicks at bay for the final 12 minutes.
“When we’re hunting for those shots, it opens up lanes, make or miss,” said head coach Erik Spoelstra. “We want those guys shooting freely, even if they are contested. Mike (Miller) is that good of a shooter, Shane (Battier) is that good of a shooter.”
To add to the late perimeter success, the “Big Three” might have had one of their better collective games. Dwyane Wade was the early assassin, notching 11 in the first quarter on his way to 25 points for the game.
LeBron James finished with 19 points and 9 assists and Chris Bosh shot 7-12 from the field, finishing with 21 points. However, it seemed to be Wade that took the featured role in contrast to Sunday when James dominated.
“I mean he’s just an aggressive player,” said James on Wade. “I saw he had it going, so I made adjustments throughout the game. I was able to focus on getting Wade involved and letting him carry the offensive load. It’s great to have that, that 1-2-3 punch out there.”
Trying to combat the effort of the Heat’s stars was Carmelo Anthony. After a 3-15 shooting performance in game one, Anthony went off for a game high 30. Half of his points came in the first quarter though and the defensive effort of James and Shane Battier slowed him as the game went on.
Regardless, Spoelstra said it did not seem like they kept him in check at any point in the contest.
“He’s a prolific scorer,” said Spoelstra. “When he’s got it going like that I don’t know if there is a better shot maker in the league. I don’t know how many times over his career we’ve said great defense, but he’s killing us.”
While Anthony was a standout and Amar’e Stoudamire chipped in 18 points, the Knicks did not have nearly as many options to go to as the Heat. In addition to the “Big Three”, Miami also got the best offensive nights they have seen in awhile out of Miller, Battier, and Mario Chalmers.
Miller and Battier each finished with 11 points on 3-5 shooting from long distance and Chalmers contributed 13 to the cause. Clearly, there was a level of comfort for everyone within the flow of the offense and there were 28 Heat assists on the 38 field goals made.
“We were working on things when it comes to our spacing and also our ball movement as the season was coming to an end,” said Wade. “Now, we have the guys on the court we want out there and everyone kind of knows their role a little bit more. The ball is moving.”
To date, it has been 11 years since the Knicks last playoff victory. Frustration boiled over to such an extent after this loss that Stoudamire punched a fire hydrant and lacerated his left hand. He left Miami in a sling and his return for the next few games is doubtful.
Now, New York will head home and try to put all that has occurred in the first two games behind them. Avoiding being on the brink of elimination will be tough, but the desperation the Knicks will play with has Miami focused knowing that this series is far from over.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Spoelstra said on defending home court. “It’s not anything more than that. We’re already trying to leave this game behind. It will be a great environment up there and we have about 24 hours to decompress and then get back to it and try to regenerate the energy and focus.”
Dwyane Wade Postgame
LeBron James Postgame [youtube_sc url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ37kIDtXlQ&feature=youtu.be”]