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Heat Oust Knicks From Postseason Play in Six Games

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Jimmy Butler | Photo Credit: www.twitter.com/MiamiHEAT

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for 47 points, and the Miami Heat are heading back to the Eastern Conference finals for the second consecutive season after defeating the New York Knicks, 96-92, in Game 6 on Friday night at the Kaseya Center.

“It is really frickin’ hard to get to the Eastern Conference finals,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

For some NBA teams that might be the case but for Miami… well they’ve had quite the postseason success for over a decade. The Heat are heading to the Eastern Conference finals for the 10th time in franchise history, the seventh time in the last 13 years and the third time in the past four seasons. Their next opponent on Wednesday will be the winner of the ongoing Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers series. The Heat will begin that upcoming conference finals series on the road.

“It means we’re one step closer to our goal,” Jimmy Butler said.

This Heat team is only the second team in NBA history to advance to the conference finals as an eighth-seed. The only other team to accomplish that feat is quite ironic, the New York Knicks accomplished it in 1999.

Max Strus added 14 points and Kyle Lowry had 11 points and nine assists for the Heat in addition to his stifling defense throughout the six-game series.

“We’ve got guys that just want it,” Kyle Lowry said.

Jalen Brunson played phenomenal for New York, scoring 41 points, while shooting 14-for-22 from the hardwood floor. His teammates on the other hand, they struggled mightily after scoring only 51 combined points and only getting 15 from All-Star Julius Randle, and 11 from RJ Barrett on 1-for-10 shooting marks.

“Congratulations to the Heat, to the organization, to the coaching staff, Spo [Spoelstra] and Pat Riley and all their players, they played tough in this series and hats off to them. But I’m proud of our guys. There’s always disappointment in the end of the season and in the end, there’ll be one team standing. … Proud of the way this team worked all year,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Miami had a bit of a scare towards the end, but they would overcome it. Gabe Vincent was called for a flagrant-1 foul against Jalen Brunson with just under a minute left in regulation, which would ignite a Knicks run of four points in the matter of 4.6 seconds.

Brunson would convert both of the free throws, Josh Hart added a layup and a 92-86 Heat lead was rapidly crushed down to 92-90.

The Knicks would get a defensive stop on the next Heat possession, but they never would get a shot off on their final two possessions. Kyle Lowry knocked the ball away for a steal, Jimmy Butler made two free throws with 14.4 seconds left and Miami secured their ticket to the next round.

“It was a battle, a Tom Thibodeau coached team, they’re always going to play hard. This was a grind and we found a way,” Kyle Lowry said

The series clinching victory would not come easy for the Heat, they had to survive one tough situation after another throughout Game 6, but they pulled it off. The Knicks tied the game four minutes into the second half once, but they missed 10 other field-goal attempts in the second half, including two free throws. That swing of points would have pulled the Knicks into the lead but much credit goes to the Heat’s defensive efforts.

“Just got to give them a lot of credit. They didn’t play like an eight seed at all, they were unbelievable. The utmost respect for them and that organization. I liked the way we fought,” Knicks star Jalen Brunson said.

The regular season was a struggle for the Miami Heat. Then they had to survive the play-in tournament, where they were just three minutes away from getting eliminated from the playoffs. They pulled off a rally against the Chicago Bulls to set the stage for their massive upset against the NBA’s best team and Eastern Conference top-seed Milwaukee Bucks.

Now, they toppled the Knicks despite basketball pundits choosing against the Heat. They’re now one of the final four teams standing in the postseason, paving their way through as an eighth seed and a regular season that saw so many up and downs, injuries and questions… well let’s say it’s all in the rearview mirror as they were saving their best for last.

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