You can talk about the play of the bench. You can talk about the offensive rebounds.
You might even bring up the fact that, yes, Jimmy Butler struck again.
But no matter the primary reason, one thing is not up for debate — the Heat now lead their series vs. the Knicks by a 3-1 count courtesy of a determined 109-101 home victory on Monday.
It’s true that Butler again led the way with 27 points, but for Miami, this was a teamwide effort in the truest sense.
Bam Adebayo scored 23 to go with 13 rebounds. Max Strus added an underrated 16 points. Kyle Lowry again offered veteran leadership and key play to complement his 15 points in reserve. And Caleb Martin had 10 points, two of which came off a monster jam in traffic.
Along with all that, the Heat suffocated the Knicks from the perimeter — with New York finishing 9-of-28 shooting on 3-pointers.
Now, teams have come back from 3-1 deficits. It can indeed happen. But as Larry Bird once said when the Celtics trailed by such a deficit, “I know when we’re up 3-1, I say it’s over.”
The Heat are 14-0 all-time when leading a best-of-7 series 3-1.
The Knicks are 0-14 all-time when trailing a best-of-7 series 3-1. pic.twitter.com/3sC7oA7ggM
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 9, 2023
It’s not officially over for the Knicks. Game 5 is back at Madison Square Garden. But they will have to muster a little magic against a Heat team that is rocking and rolling at the perfect time of year.
Miami has also gotten it done with resolve and cohesion, and that has been on display for three straight games. When Butler is healthy and plays, they have won 11 of 13.
Caleb Martin soars for the hammer! ? pic.twitter.com/8w6BlZErfx
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 9, 2023
So it will be more than just a deficit that the Knicks must overcome. They will have to try to overtake an opponent that, clearly, is clicking when it matters most.