RJ Barrett, the 21-year-old small forward for the New York Knicks, had a big night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Miami Heat. Despite not playing in the clutch minutes of the game, Barrett’s impressive performance helped lift the Knicks to a 111-105 victory before a sellout crowd of 19,812 at Madison Square Garden.
Barrett poured in 24 points, including 16 in the first quarter, to give the Knicks a much-needed offensive boost. He shot 5 of 8 from the field, including 5 of 9 from behind the arc, and was one of the few Knicks who was able to consistently break down Miami’s 2-3 zone defense.
Despite his hot start, Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau made the tough decision to sit Barrett late in the game for defensive purposes. Thibodeau explained that he was doing what he thought was best for the team and was asking everyone to sacrifice and put the team first.
Barrett himself was unfazed by the decision, saying that he was just trying to be aggressive and help his team win. He acknowledged the challenge of facing Miami’s tough defense but was able to knock down key shots to help his team get the victory.
For a Knicks team that struggled from deep in Game 1, Barrett’s shooting was key. He bounced back from a 1-of-5 performance from behind the arc in Game 1 to go 5 of 9 in Game 2. Barrett’s ability to knock down outside shots helped open up the floor for his teammates and made it harder for Miami’s defense to pack the paint.
Despite his impressive performance, Barrett’s biggest contribution may have been his willingness to sacrifice for the team. Thibodeau had sat Julius Randle for the entire fourth quarter of Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and this time around, he made the tough decision to sit Barrett for most of the fourth quarter. Thibodeau emphasized that Barrett was key to the team and that he was asking everyone to sacrifice and put the team first.
In the end, Barrett’s performance helped the Knicks tie the series at 1-1 and gave them confidence heading into the next game. For a young player like Barrett, his ability to step up in big moments and put the team first bodes well for his future and the future of the Knicks.
By: Mr. WWK