Mitchell Robinson takes aim at Miami Heat’s strategy late in Game 5 vs. New York Knicks

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New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson had a simple message after the Miami Heat began fouling him late in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

His two-word response to the Heat’s strategy was offered as he entered the Knicks’ locker room after his team’s 112-103 victory.

“Foul that,” he said emphatically.

After providing those words, Robinson also paid tribute to the home fans at Madison Square Garden, who offered moral support during his trips to the foul line.

“It felt great in that moment for them to believe in me,” Robinson said, referring to the sold-out crowd. “Knocking them down for the team and stuff like that, it’s amazing.”

The 25-year-old offered no criticism of the Heat’s desperate approach, knowing that such a strategy has been used regularly by teams over the years.

The reason why the Heat targeted Robinson is a simple one. Over the five years that Robinson has played for the Knicks, his free-throw shooting has gotten progressively worse.

As a rookie, Robinson connected on 60.0 percent of his free throws. In his second season, he made 56.8 percent of his free throws. However, beginning with the 2020-21 campaign, Robinson’s success rate at the charity stripe has dipped below 50.0 percent in each season.

Yet, with the Knicks’ season potentially coming to an end on Wednesday night, Mitchell was able to connect on three of four attempts in the final 5:17 of the contest. He first split a pair of free throws before knocking down a pair only 30 seconds later.

Those three free throws managed to help Robinson get to 50 percent on the night, as he converted on four of his eight attempts from the line.

The Heat were obviously well aware of Robinson’s shooting woes. Prior to success in Game 5, he was only shooting 30.4 percent from the line during the postseason.

Even though the Heat came up short in the contest, the team clearly fought to the end. During the third quarter, the Heat were down by as much as 19 points but managed to get as close as two points with 2:37 left in the game.

A win on Wednesday night would have ended the playoff series, though the Heat now have a chance to clinch things at home on Friday night. While the fouling strategy obviously remains in the team’s toolbox, the Heat would much prefer to simply win by a comfortable margin.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.