Heat's win over Knicks shows what team is capable of with playoff stakes

Terry Rozier, Bam Adebayo and Haywood Highsmith led the way for the Miami Heat in Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks.

New York Knicks v Miami Heat
New York Knicks v Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

In a vital matchup against the New York Knicks on Tuesday night, the Miami Heat brought out the iron to secure a physical, hard-fought 109-99 victory. Miami was led by point guard Terry Rozier who capped the night with 34 points, the most he’s had in a Heat uniform.

But while Rozier led a masterful performance on the offensive end, Miami's defense was the main power source in this win.

Rozier took advantage of 1-on-1 matchups all night. If the opposing defense decides to leave him on an island, they’ll live and die by his shot-making. Rozier was able to punch in eight triples, shooting a phenomenal 72% from distance. The Knicks didn’t just give him open opportunities. He was smothered the whole night, but his ball handling in isolation was too much for New York to handle. 

Terry Rozier, Bam Adebayo and Haywood Highsmith led the way for the Miami Heat in Tuesday's win over the New York Knicks.

“I think by now he knows that everyone wants him to be that aggressive… It shows you what he’s capable of,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Go do what you’ve been doing, go do what you did to us."

Knicks star Jalen Brunson was on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Heat have a track record for shutting down opposing No. 1 options and that’s exactly what they did Tuesday. Brunson finished the night shooting 1-6 from three and 5-18 from the field. He struggled all night to find open space off the dribble. The Heat doubled off ball screens, crowded his space and blitzed him before he could get in the paint. 

Spoelstra ran a couple of different packages on the defensive end that had the Knicks uncomfortable. The Heat were fine with leaving the outlet three open, even if it meant a role player could catch fire. Miles McBride had 24 points for the Knicks, while Donte DiVincenzo scored 31. The plan was to contain Brunson and pack the paint, forcing New York to shoot from beyond the arc. 

“It was good to see us respond to the competition and find a way to win at the end," Spoelstra said. "It’s awesome to be a part of these type of games that have this type of spirit."

The Heat’s defense was led by two-way anchor Bam Adebayo's presence in the paint and Haywood Highsmith's perimeter defense on Brunson.

Miami got the job done on both ends of the floor, winning a crucial game against an East Coast rival. They shot 44.7% from beyond the arc, outrebounded the Knicks 39-30, and shot 95.2% from the free-throw line. A game with playoff energy ended with the Heat winning in their fashion on both sides of the hardwood. 

The Heat will stay planted in South Beach for its next matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. They currently sit at No. 7 in the Eastern Conference standings, climbing a half-game behind the No, 6 seed Indiana Pacers.