Knicks & Heat Make An Unlikely Pair In Eastern Conference Semifinal
The only reputable person on Earth who might have had both the New York Knicks and Miami Heat advancing to the second round of the NBA Playoffs is Pat Riley, the longtime Knicks coach and current Heat team president. And there’s no chance in hell he had both winning in five games.
HEAT VS. KNICKS 🍿
Who ya got in Round 2? pic.twitter.com/q1gRpFzCgI
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 27, 2023
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Such is the world we live in, however, as the Heat pulled off a shocking upset Wednesday night to eliminate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in a 128-126 overtime victory. Earlier in the night, the fourth-seeded Knicks turned a seemingly even series matchup into a rout, taking their own Game 5 to eliminate the Cleveland Cavaliers. These two teams, who endured adversity all season, will now face off in an improbable series leading to the Eastern Conference Final.
The Heat will enter Game 1 at Madison Square Garden with more momentum coming off a series victory against Milwaukee. Star forward Jimmy Butler had one of the best postseason performances in the modern era with 188 points in five games, including multiple clutch shots in several hard-fought wins. The Bucks arguably played down to their opponents and a Game 1 injury to Antetokounmpo didn’t help matters, but Butler’s efforts were singularly responsible for Miami’s ability to capitalize.
The Knicks’ series win over Cleveland was not as flashy but instead featured a multi-pronged attack firing on all cylinders. Led by Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson on offense, the team effectively made the most of its scoring opportunities while smothering Cleveland on defense. This could pose a new challenge for Miami, who took advantage of a weaker Milwaukee defense throughout the first round.
In the regular season, neither of these teams was slated as deep postseason contenders, as the Knicks seemed to lack star power while the Heat had to qualify for a berth through the play-in tournament. One of these teams will soon be thrust into the spotlight, however. On the other side of the bracket, two super teams are likely to face off, as the Philadelphia 76ers have already advanced while the Boston Celtics seem likely to do so with a 3-2 lead over the Atlanta Hawks.
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