Heat take 3-1 lead, hold off Knicks 109-101 for Game 4 win

Miami, May 9 (U.S.): The lead was shaky at times. Shooting was cool. Building tension. There were moments when the Miami Heat looked like they were about to get into trouble.

And they found a way again.

The unpredictable journey of the eighth-seeded Heat continues, with Miami on the brink of another trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Jimmy Butler scored 27 points and 10 assists, Bam Adebayo finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds, and the Heat led the New York Knicks 109-101 Monday night, the Associated Press reported.

“It was great to be playing at home,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. But we know we have a mission in New York.”

They’ll go 3-1 at Madison Square Garden for game five on Wednesday night, one win from concluding the Eastern Semifinal game and returning to the Conference Finals for the third time in four years.

“We’ve got work to do,” Butler said, “and I think we’re very capable.”

Max Stross scored 16 points, Kyle Lowry added 15, and Caleb Martin added ten points for the Heat. Miami is only the No. 8 fourth seed in this NBA playoff format now in its 40th season to win at least seven games. The 1999 Knicks won 12 on their way to the NBA Finals, while Memphis won seven in 2011 and Philadelphia won seven in 2012.

Jalen Brunson finished with 32 points and 11 assists for fifth-ranked New York, while RJ Barrett scored 24 and Julius Randle 20 for the Knicks before being fouled with about three minutes left.

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“You have to win four to win a series,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So, all we think about is winning the next game. Go quarter by quarter. Win the first quarter, win the second quarter, win the third quarter, win the fourth quarter. Then the next day we’ll think about the next game day.”

Miami missed 12 of their first 15 shots in the fourth quarter, but the Knicks didn’t take the full advantage as they trimmed just three points from the Heat’s lead in that period. Nine tackles were the fourth, and a pair of free throws by Bronson with 4:40 left got New York within 99-93.

But a blow from Martin breathed some life into the naphtha-filled building, and the growl picked up a bit after about a minute. With the Knicks down at seven, Randle went to the lane but Stross beat him to the penalty spot, leading to the connection that became the New York Star’s sixth foul with 3:08 left. Hold the heat by controlling the rest of the way.

“They do the offensive rebounds, to thwart balls, they’ve got some solid players who command respect,” Barrett said. “I give them credit. They work so hard.”

They’ve got players down on every possession, they’re taking calls, they’re getting rebounds. They play hard. We played hard as well.”

The Knicks never led in Game 3, then held the lead twice in Game 4. Barely.

They had a pair of points in the opening quarter, for 33 seconds, with Miami erasing the deficit with instant baskets on their next possession.

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But unlike Game 3, when Miami’s lead was double digits in nearly all of the last three quarters, that number remained highly questionable.

The Knicks cut what was an 11-point deficit to 67-65 on a three-pointer from Barrett with 7:07 left in the third, but were never able to get over the hump.

An 8-1 rush over two minutes late in the third period restored the lead to 11 points, Miami was 90-81 cushion going into the fourth, and the Heat held on.

“We’re kind of fighting an uphill battle,” Bronson said. “You haven’t done enough in 48 minutes.”

A Miami team that was about 3 minutes away from being eliminated in cycle play is now winning one of the Final Four in the NBA.

It may be unexpected for many but not to heat.

“We got tested this year,” said Strouss. And we knew that when the battles came, we would be ready for them.”

Tip-ins

Knicks: Emmanuel Quickley, who sprained his left ankle late in Game 3, was out. His status in Game 5 is not clear, and he is listed by the day. New York changed the starting lineup, with Quentin Grimes celebrating Josh Hart’s 23rd birthday. The Knicks gave up six offensive rebounds in the first three quarters combined, then gave up seven in the fourth quarter alone.

Heat: Adebayo kicked seven field goals in the first half. Five were dunks, the first time in 473 NBA games that he had dunks before halftime. The 7-2 postseason game is the fifth best in Heat history. They were 8-1 in 2005, 2013, 2014, and 2020 for reaching the NBA Finals in the last three instances. Miami wasted four seconds on one possession early in the fourth quarter.

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SpO Mark

The win was Spoelstra’s 103rd win. He became the third coach with so many wins with one team. Gregg Popovich has 170 with San Antonio, Phil Jackson has 118 with the Los Angeles Lakers and 111 with Chicago.

Heat president Pat Riley, Spoelstra president and predecessor as Heat coach, has 102 wins with the Lakers.

On Big Wednesday

The Heat has a chance to make it to the East Finals on Wednesday and so does South Florida’s NHL team. The Florida Panthers lead their second-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0, with Game 4 of that game in Sunrise, Florida on Wednesday night.

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