Team Report: Knicks-Heat playoff rematch has much more than revenge at stake…..

The Knicks recharged on Thanksgiving, scattering on the off day for their family meals and, in the case of Quentin Grimes, preferring ham over turkey.

The team had the luxury of three days between games to chill at home.

So with full bellies, there can be no excuses for one of the bigger matchups of the Knicks’ regular season on Black Friday.

It’s an MSG game against Jimmy Butler’s Heat that doubles as a payback opportunity and highly significant to advancement in the In-Season Tournament.

Jimmy did his thing last season in the playoffs against us,” Grimes said, “and there’s gonna be a little bit more urgency when we play an In-Season Tournament game. So definitely gonna be a lot more urgency going into that game.”

It’s not an exaggeration to say that if the Knicks lose Friday, they’re very likely eliminated from the In-Season Tournament.

And if they manage to beat Butler and Erik Spoelstra, they’d be 2-1 in group play and in strong position to qualify for the elimination round (their final group game is Tuesday against the sloppy Hornets).

Whether or not the tournament truly moves the needle for the Knicks or they’ve been simply paying lip service to Adam Silver’s baby, there’s also the significance of the first game against the Heat since getting eliminated in South Beach in May.

Other than Jalen Brunson (and maybe RJ Barrett), the Knicks lost all their matchups during that second-round appearance.

They were punked by Butler. Tom Thibodeau was out-coached by Spoelstra. Mitchell Robinson was outworked and outsmarted by Bam Adebayo. Julius Randle was hobbled, ineffective and largely a disaster.

Still, in the spirit of Thibodeau downplaying everything as ‘one day at a time,’ the coach said the playoffs were already forgotten and a nonfactor for Friday. It’s hard to believe that’s accurate if the Knicks are truly the innate competitors they often claim.


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