Knicks Heat Streak Mitchell Robinsons Free Throws Quentin Grimes Energy

Knicks Heat Streak: Mitchell Robinson’s Free Throws, Quentin Grimes’ Energy and More – The Athletic

Mitchell Robinson had only one thought as the Miami Heat instituted an exploitative strategy on Wednesday night.

“I’m going to blow these ones out,” said Robinson.

Midway through the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s game, the Heat intentionally fouled Robinson, who by that point had missed 18 of 25 playoff free throws, and sent the New York Knicks center to the charity team in hopes the offense would falter. But it didn’t work, just as Robinson had silently predicted.

He made three of four freebies in front of a boisterous crowd before head coach Tom Thibodeau snapped him out for substitute Isaiah Hartenstein. But positive thinking wasn’t the only reason Robinson made good on his free-throw prediction.

Arriving at the finish line, the 24-year-old also made a small adjustment: he changed his pre-shot routine.

Typically, Robinson receives the basketball from the referee, palms it against his left hip, takes a deep breath, dribbles once, and then stands for his free throw. He dribbled three times instead of once as the Knicks defeated the Heat 112-103 and cut Miami’s lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals series to 3-2 on Wednesday.

It wasn’t a coincidence. The extra dribbles helped his concentration, he said.

Sometimes the most important standard adjustments take place when no one is paying attention.

Robinson’s composure could come in handy with Game 6 scheduled for Friday night in Miami. The Heat didn’t try the Robinson tactic until the fourth quarter. The strategy doesn’t make as much sense when New York is struggling to score as many points as they have in the first four games of the series.

But in the final three quarters of Game 5, the Knicks appeared to be the top-five offensive line they were in the regular season. It’s probably no coincidence that Miami coach Erik Spoelstra needed New York’s best offensive play to repeatedly send Robinson to the line. And if the Knicks get another good result in Game 6, they’ll have to be prepared for Spoelstra to charm another Mitch

Maul-a-Mitchell is hardly the only topic of discussion following the Knicks’ recent win. Here are four more thoughts as the two teams get ready for Game 6:

Quick decisions

The Knicks’ starters found a new strength early in the third quarter on Wednesday, and it was because they played fast.

Let’s start with Quentin Grimes, who ran 48 minutes of a playoff game and never seemed tired.

People will focus on the physical aspect of the exhaustion. With just a few minutes left in the game, Grimes slammed his knees with Miami’s skilled screener Bam Adebayo, got up with a limp, found his man, Jimmy Butler, and then somehow pulled off a steal despite feeling so uncomfortable he didn’t even have the was able to dribble place after regaining the basketball. But there’s another part of fatigue: the mental side.

Grimes’ brain was never exhausted. He continued to make quick decisions.

He was one of the Knicks most responsible for the team’s run early in the second half. On two separate plays, Julius Randle cornered the ball to Grimes, a spot he can always justify getting up for a spot-up, but the guard promptly played it to Jalen Brunson instead.

Players keep talking about toll fatigue troubling them. We’ve seen none of that with Grimes, who may need to play big minutes again in Game 6 considering Immanuel Quickley is ruled questionable with a sprained left ankle that could see the Knicks have a seven-man rotation in a second consecutive elimination game.

The run

The Knicks discovered a game changer early in the second quarter of Game 5.

Obi Toppin was heading to the top of the key to set a screen for Brunson, but Brunson went early meaning Toppin couldn’t set the pick. But one thing was certain: he would make it up to her. Seconds later, Brunson swung the ball to Toppin, who went into a dribble with his point guard. The game ended with an open 3 for Grimes.

The sequence sparked an 18-2 run in New York that coincided with Randle’s exit at the end of the first quarter and Toppin’s boarding early in the second quarter. With Toppin on the court, the pace changed. Randle spent the first quarter pounding the ball against Adebayo and Butler, pretending they weren’t together. With Toppin, the offense flowed and the results showed.

But there is a subtlety to this. The run wasn’t just about Toppin’s activity. It was also about the man guarding Toppin at the aforementioned game: Heat sniper Duncan Robinson.

During the second-quarter heat, the Knicks beat Robinson, Miami’s weakest defenseman.

Toppin threw the Knicks an alley-oop on the fast break the next time. Once in possession after that, Robinson guarded Grimes, who rushed to his point guard to shield him, jumped onto the wing and then played a hot pass to RJ Barrett for the 3-pointer.

It was another quick decision from Grimes – and it all started with him happening to be the guy Robinson was guarding.

The next time, Robinson got stuck on Barrett, meaning the Knicks junior was the one setting Brunson up. New York scored again.

There were other factors in the 18-2 attack. The Knicks got stops. They ran. Barrett also managed a transition 3 midway through. Brunson polished an off-balance and-1. But the use of Robinson opened up the offense in halffield, especially because the Knicks used a pick-and-roll dynamo for their bench unit with Brunson.

Maybe you can take something away from it. Even if Brunson doesn’t play all 48 minutes of Game 6 like he did in Game 5, the Knicks could stagger him allowing him to take the bench unit, an aspect made all the more important when Quickley isn’t playing. The moments when Butler and Robinson aren’t in the game lend themselves as well as any to splitting the heat with screens.

Barrett’s streak

There was nothing remarkable about Barrett’s Game 5, and that’s what made it so remarkable. Barrett prepares for an efficient evening of high scores and becomes a regular day at the office.

He scored 26 points in 8-of-17 shooting on Wednesday. While running with the bench unit, he hit big punches. He fought to the brim and showed a lot of sensitivity in the paint. And none of that has been unusual since the Knicks’ first-round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For years, it was his efficiency that impressed Barrett. Just when the Knicks need him most, he turns the corner.

In his last eight playoff games, he averaged 22.5 points with an accuracy of 50 percent from field and 38 percent from depth. His true performance on this route: just over 60 percent. That’s an excellent score for a #2 option that Barrett has become in this run.

Defensive matchup to watch

Especially considering Brunson’s inevitably high minute count, one aspect of Game 6 to keep in mind is which Heat player he’s guarding. The Knicks consistently placed him ahead of shooters Robinson and Max Strus in Game 5. On separate occasions, Brunson lost his man, resulting in open jumps.

The Heat didn’t shoot well from 3-point range in Game 5, but some of their 3-pointers were open, whether it was because Brunson couldn’t stay with his man, because Randle was one-handed down by Kevin Love, or because of something else .

It’s exhausting chasing Robinson across screens, even for short periods of time. If Brunson goes over 40 minutes again and keeps losing shooters, placing it on someone like Gabe Vincent, who has been outstanding in that series, could give the Knicks defense a different look.

(Photo by Quentin Grimes and Jimmy Butler: Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports