#7 – April 30, 2023: Obi Toppin impresses in Game 1 at Miami
Heading into this game, the Knicks had to prepare to be without Julius Randle. Randle had missed the last few games of the regular season and nearly missed the beginning of the series against the Cleveland Cavaliers. His production was inconsistent in Games 1-4, and right when he seemed to hit his stride by having a masterful first half in Game 5, Randle went down again injuring the same ankle that prematurely ended his regular season.
So from the get-go, New York was relying on Obi Toppin to be as productive as ever in place of Randle during the second-round matchup against the Heat. Toppin rose to the occasion in Game 1.
Toppin’s first impactful possessions came in the final minutes of the first quarter, where he scored seven of the team’s final 12 points. A pair of ally-oops and a three-pointer helped New York break away from Miami and go up by 10 points to end the frame.
After resting for the entire second quarter, Toppin scored immediately in his return to action in the third quarter. Obi scored the team’s first basket of the second half, a layup assisted by Jalen Brunson. A few minutes later, Toppin’s second triple gave the Knicks the lead back, 64-63. Another Toppin three at around the five-minute mark kept the Knicks within four points of the Heat, but New York continued to let the game slip away from that point on.
After that, NY kept it a highly contested matchup but was playing from behind the rest of the way. By the time there were only four minutes remaining, Miami had built up a double-digit lead.
In the biggest game of Toppin’s life, he finished with 18 points on 7-for-15 shooting to go with eight rebounds, and he shot 4-for-11 from three in 31 minutes. It was a very solid offensive showing that helped his team stay in the game for most of the time he was out on the court. Unfortunately, this would be Toppin’s only good showing in the series; they lost this game and fell to the Heat in five games. Not the best end to Toppin’s Knicks tenure.