NEW YORK – Between Games 3 and 4 of the Heat’s first round series with the New York Knicks, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said his team was trying to “reach a complete game on both sides of the ball.”
The closest the Heat came in the series was Game 1, an easy 100-67 victory. Then their defense regressed in Game 2 and the offense was pretty ugly in Game 3. But the Heat managed to still go up 3-0, getting the job on one end of the floor or the other.
Game 4? It was the offense that struggled again. And with the defense unable to get one final stop in the fourth quarter, the Knicks got their first playoff victory in more than 11 years, an 89-87 win that sends the series back to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, TNT).
The Heat offense had one more chance to earn a week off before the conference semifinals, getting the ball down two with 13 seconds left. Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler had fouled out and defensive liabilities Mike Bibby and Amar’e Stoudemire were on the floor for the Knicks.
LeBron James had just hit some big shots, but the Heat went to Dwyane Wade on the final possession. After a screen from Chris Bosh, Wade was isolated on Stoudemire, seemingly a great matchup. But Wade couldn’t get to the rim, made his way to the right corner and threw up a shot that had little chance of going in. It was a possession that pretty much typified the last two games from the Heat offensively.
Wade not only butchered the final possession, but he shot 4-for-11 from the free throw line and 0-for-3 from 3-point range.
As a team, the Heat were 3-for-19 from beyond the arc, still searching for that complete game.