Stephen A. Smith knew before his beloved Knicks took the floor for Game 6 against the Heat on Friday night inside the Kaseya Center that New York faced an uphill task in beating Miami to force a winner-take-all Game 7 at Madison Square Garden.
But even before the ESPN commentator picked the Heat to win NBA on ESPN before Friday’s game, Smith led a dramatic, difficult request for his Knicks with the hope that this will give them the motivation they need. While some thought the Knicks’ road to coming back from down 3-2 in the series was unlikely, Smith chose to keep faith in his hometown team.
“I choose to believe because it’s not over until it’s over,” Smith said before the game. “History says the Miami Heat up 3-1 in the postseason are 14-0 all-time. History says the New York Knicks are down 3-1 in the postseason 0-14 all-time . It’s not just a chance to change history, it’s a chance to make history. What will you do? This orange and blue. This time, you only need one game. … your whole soul.. . all your blood… your effort.. one game… to get them back to the garden. How much do you want it? How much do you need it?”
However, the Knicks, as they have done so many times, let Smith down and lost 96-92 to be eliminated from the playoffs. After the loss, the Heat made sure to remind Smith that his hopes of making a run at the championship would have to wait another year.
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 13, 2023
Despite the loss, Jalen Brunson finished with 41 points to become the fourth player in NBA history to make more field goals than the rest of his team combined in an elimination game. Only three other players—LeBron James twice, the late Kobe Bryant and Penny Hardaway—have done it.
The loss even prompted Smith to take a moment to himself before once again expressing his disappointment with the Knicks and starting his recruitment of Damian Lillard.
“I always knew the New York Knicks were going to lose,” Smith said in a video after the game. “Tom Thibodeau, the team can’t shoot but you only played Evan Fournier 27 games this season. Don’t give him a second chance in the playoffs. … Jalen Brunson was amazing, 41 points, but he was the only one.
“RJ Barrett, 1-for-10 shooting from the field, really? Got the nerve to be sensitive about criticism? Julius Randle, Julius Randle, Julius Randle, 3-for-14, once again, the playoffs are coming, once again you fold. Done. Done. Time to trade Julius Randle. It was time for him to go. I want Damian Lillard. I don’t care what you do to get him, I want Damian Lillard. Goodbye.
I want Dame. pic.twitter.com/KAvmQI4hCX
– Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 13, 2023