By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The Miami Heat notched a dominant wire-to-wire victory over the New York Knicks in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup, 105-86, to take a 2-1 series lead last May 7, 2023, in the ongoing PBA Playoffs.
Jimmy Butler was spectacular in his return coming off a rolled ankle injury and dropped 28 big points, four rebounds, three assists, and two blocks in 35 minutes of playing time.
Miami’s hero in the ongoing NBA post-season shrugged off his ankle issues and shot 9/21 from the field including 10 drained free throws out of 11 total attempts.
Butler quickly set the tone for the Heat after scoring eight quick points and shut down every New York double team deployed on him.
Despite the tight coverages New York head coach Tom Thibodeau threw at Butler, the superstar small forward still found a way to score the ball and hit several momentum-clinching step-back perimeter jump shots that halted the Knicks’ offensive runs.
The Heat muscled their way inside the New York interior to rack up their total free throw attempts to 31 and converted 28 of them.
Miami then clinched their biggest lead of the ball game at 22 points when Kyle Lowry backed down the smaller Immanuel Quickley at the post in the 7:55 mark of the final frame.
Just when the Heat thought they could run over New York in the last stretch of the game, the Knicks unleashed an 8-0 run that put them back after a Jalen Brunson mid-ranged shot from the left baseline.
Butler answered the call for Miami that ended New York’s 8-0 run when he drilled a tough step-back jumper from the left baseline over the defense of Josh Hart and Obi Toppin.
After the Butler conversion, Miami began to roll again and never let go of their double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
Max Struss backstopped Butler with 19 big points built from three made treys while Bam Adebayo had a solid double-double outing of 17 points and 12 boards.
The Knicks will look to salvage Game 4 on the road to avoid a 1-3 series deficit on May 9, 2023, still at the Kaseya Center.