A corner three by Quentin Grimes gave the New York Knicks a 51-50 lead over the Heat at halftime on Friday night. It was an encouraging way to go into the break after a sloppy half of New York basketball, but then the third quarter happened.
It's one thing for a team to go on a run to open up the second half. It's a whole different thing for it to be a 19-0 run. On top of that, Tom Thibodeau called two timeouts during the Heat run but made zero adjustments. Shockingly enough, the Knicks' first point of the quarter came from a Mitchell Robinson free throw.
Erik Spoelstra is one of the best coaches in the league, if not the best. He led Miami to the NBA Finals last season after narrowly making it past the Play-In Tournament. No matter who's on the roster, the Heat automatically have an advantage because of Spoelstra. It's normal for him to outcoach his opponent, and that's what he did against Thibodeau in the second round.
A 19-0 run is inexcusable, and the blame for the way New York's starters looked to open the half can't be placed on Thibodeau. However, it's up to him to step in and try to stop the bleeding.
Thibodeau's lack of adjustments luckily doesn't keep Knicks from win
Fueled by Immanuel Quickley's spark off the bench and Jalen Brunson's clutch moments down the stretch, New York found a way to come back to win, 100-98. The 21-point deficit in the third quarter didn't bog the Knicks down completely, although it almost did.
It was the Heat who collapsed in the fourth quarter as they missed 18 of 21 shots. It was the opposite of what happened in the playoffs when Miami couldn't miss. The Knicks didn't win on Friday because of luck, but it certainly helped that the Heat went cold.
With Tom Thibodeau at the helm, third quarters haven't been kind to New York. He knows who he's going to sub in and when he's going to do it, and that's a plan he will stick to no matter what happens. It's very rare for Thibodeau to switch things up.
Luckily, Tom Thibodeau standing pat on the sideline didn't come back to haunt the Knicks. Maybe the deficit actually caused New York to play with added motivation, or perhaps it was the implications of the In-Season Tournament.
A win is a win, and that's what matters.