NY Post: Knicks’ season ends in blowout playoff loss to Hawks

The Knicks have been sent “on vacation,’’ as Hawks center Clint Capela promised.

The Knicks weaved a wonderful 41-31 regular season, but the Hawks proved it to be an inflated ledger in taking them out in five.

Atlanta outclassed the Knicks all series, eliminating them with a 103-89 victory Wednesday at the Garden in Game 5.

Capela was a huge factor in wiping the glass with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and shoving them into an offseason of potential promise with $60 million of cap space and two first-round picks. The Knicks missed injured center Mitchell Robinson in the series.

The Garden crowd showered the Knicks with a standing ovation in the final 50 seconds.

I was going to use this for a theoretical Game 6, but it works for now, as well.

Sorry for the thread delay, but I figured we all wanted to sit with the loss a bit first before we really fully reacted to it.

Okay, first things first, boy, that sucked.

Second thing, that crowd serenade was nice.

Third thing, I get wanting the starters on the court to celebrate their first playoff win, but I hope Nate eschews that approach if they win another series. Trae’s antics don’t really bother me (you know Knick fans would love it if the situations were reversed and that was a Knick doing those antics), but he really didn’t need to be out there to do the antics.

Fourth thing, as I joked in the opening of the game thread, Thibs soon realized that he needed Derrick Rose to start the game for the Knicks to have a chance, but he then also needed Derrick Rose to come off the bench for the Knicks to not fall apart when Derrick Rose rested. In other words, the Knicks were in a lose-lose situation at the point.

Fifth thing, with that in mind, though, while Thibs was right to lean on Rose, we saw last night that doing so likely led to Rose’s body giving out. As soon as he got hurt, this series was truly over. Rose just can’t play big minutes anymore. It’s simply not in his current physical capabilities.

Sixth thing, as even Berman noted, the Knicks really missed Mitch. However, they also missed a healthy Noel. After a season with really good health luck (where their one major injury was at a position where they had basically an only slightly discounted version of the injured player ready to fill in and then got a seemingly washed up veteran who was so good that he often closed out games), they had bad injury luck this series with Noel getting hurt early and Rose getting hurt late.

Seventh thing, we all get by now that it’s almost assuredly true that the downside of Thibs treating every game like it is Game 7 means that the Knicks have no extra gear left for the playoffs, while other teams A. Put more effort into the playoffs B. Play shorter rotations C. Don’t rest players and D. Spend the time on film that Thibs always does in the regular season. That’s an issue, I just don’t think it’s a major one. Getting the fourth seed instead of the ninth seed is a good thing. You just hope Leon Rose gives Thibs even better players in the future, so playoff letdowns will be less of an issue.

Eighth thing, Chandler Parsons was signed away from the Mavericks on a max contract while recovering from knee surgery following a mediocre Age 27 season. Julius Randle was just an All-Star and will possibly be an All-NBA player. He’s getting maxed out by someone if he holds off until next offseason to sign a deal following his age 27 season. Maybe it shouldn’t be the Knicks, but it will happen regardless. Don’t think that his shitty series here will suddenly limit his max offers.

Ninth thing, however, the shitty series likely does cap out all the other Knick free agents at the midlevel (not counting Taj or Payton. The former because he’s too old and the latter because he’s awful). That’s still $40 million for the Knicks to bring them all back, and likely not one year deals. So who knows what happens there.

Tenth thing, with how much the Knicks relied on a career resurgence by Derrick Rose, it does highlight that there are serious questions about how good this team will be next year. They’re in a great position, cap-wise and draft picks- wise, but there are so many question marks that this could go either way easily.

Final thing, this was still a very fun season and I’m glad we all had each other to share this with.

Let’s go, win the offseason, Knicks!

NY Post: Knicks’ season on the brink after disastrous Game 4 loss to Hawks

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks’ fairytale season is nearly over.

Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks were a terrific-regular season team, but their flaws have been revealed during this depressing first-round series against the Hawks.

Julius Randle was a little better and RJ Barrett was a lot better, but neither was nearly enough to stifle Atlanta’s weaponry. The Hawks have put the Knicks on the brink with Sunday’s 113-96 victory before 16,458 at raucous State Farm Arena.

The Knicks are in a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series and have never come back from that deficit in 13 tries in their history. Just 13 teams in 260 instances have ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit.

“We’ve got to fix it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to fix it fast.”

Game 5 is back at what will be a frenzied Garden on Wednesday. In the fourth quarter, the Atlanta fans did themselves proud, chanting “Hawks in Five” as they led by as many as 26 points.

Randle begs to differ with the odds.

“I like our chances,” Randle said. “To answer your question, I love our chances. It’s not over. It’s not nearly over.”

Shooting 24 percent in the series entering the afternoon, Randle scored his playoff-high 23 points and added seven assists and 10 rebounds, but shot just 7-for-19 and committed five turnovers. He was on the receiving end of “overrated” chants all game.

That was depressing enough that I waited until now to write about it.

Let’s get the perfunctory “the series is not over” stuff out of the way. That’s very true. Look at the situation the Clippers were in after losing the first two games of their series at home and now look how that series looks, with the Clippers winning both games in Dallas by sizable margins. So a series’ look can change very quickly.

That said, obviously it is a lot to ask any team to win three in a row against a playoff team. So this series is likely not going to end well for the Knicks.

However, I continue to not mind it that much, as this really feels more like a beginning than an end. What I think would have been an iffy approach would have been to just run this team back next year, as there is a clear difference in your supporting cast being a bunch of still young, good lottery picks and one of the hottest free agents of the past offseason (think how good Bogo would look on the Knicks) and your supporting cast being Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson.

The former is likely to get even better while it’s hard to imagine a next gear next season from the Knick vets. I think it isn’t unreasonable to expect similar production next year, but for long term success, they’re probably better off using their cap space on someone who can grow with their young stars, Randle and Barrett (and Immanuel Quickley and Mitch Robinson and I guess Obi Toppin).

The future is still bright, though, with a cupboard full of assets plus a lot of cap space. Rose could trade for a young player, as well. Lots of great possibilities, so I’m quite happy about the position this team is in overall. Is that good position also a bit precarious? Of course. Things could go way wrong, but if they do, i think it will be from a bold move that just didn’t work out, not by being overly conservative.

So I think that, while frustrating, there is a silver lining to the limitations of this team being so glaring so far this series.

Or I could just be trying to convince myself of that. Either or.

NY Post: Julius Randle, RJ Barrett flop in Knicks’ blowout Game 3 loss to Hawks

From Marc Berman:

 Tom Thibodeau can change the Knicks’ starting point guard, but he can’t change what his team has been built around this season: Julius Randle and RJ Barrett as a dynamic 1-2 punch.

In their playoff debuts, however, the pair have been duds, and now the Knicks are facing a dose of reality as they trail the Hawks 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

For the third straight game, Randle and Barrett underperformed and the Hawks rolled with an emphatic 105-94 victory Wednesday in Game 3 at rowdy and red State Farm Arena.

I mean, that’s really it, right? Randle and Barrett were terrible and the Knicks could have still won this one.

So….you know, let’s hope they play better and the Knicks even this series on Sunday.

Imagine how much they would have lost by had Payton started!

NY Post: Knicks rally past Hawks to even NBA playoff series

From Marc Berman:

Trailing 1-0 in the first-round series, the Knicks were down 15 points late in the second quarter Wednesday night in Game 2.

Julius Randle was horrendous again, and Trae Young, Atlanta’s superstar point guard, was soaring in the face of the Garden’s derogatory chants.

But it all changed dramatically in the second half. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau finally started Derrick Rose at point guard to begin the third quarter and gritty Taj Gibson at center, and regular-season Randle showed up as the Knicks rallied for a resounding 101-92 victory before a rocking 15,000-plus fans at the Garden.

Rose scored 26 points, Randle fired in 13 of his 15 points in the second half and Reggie Bullock awakened from 3. The Knicks showed immense force, grabbing all loose balls and evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece. The series shifts to Atlanta for Friday’s Game 3.

Thibs was a bad coach in the first half and a great coach in the second half.

Orrrrrr…players made plays in the second half that they didn’t in the first and Randle and Bullock played like they did in the regular season and not in Game 1 (or the first half of Game 2) and the Knicks pulled out a huge victory.

Granted, Thibs di make a move by pulling Payton and Noel and replacing them with Rose and Gibson in the second half. It worked out really well.

Gallo was once again the Knicks MVP.

The Hawks are still a tough out. A lot of their players missed a bunch of open threes, including Gallo (he was terrible), so that might not be the case in the rest of the series. So the Knicks need to work on that, as their defense on Trae left a lot of Hawks open for threes.

But that’s for future us to worry up. For now, let’s just celebrate what a win this was!

Oh, and feel better, Hubert!

NY Post: Trae Young sinks Knicks in heartbreaking Game 1 loss to Hawks

From Marc Berman:

It was as earsplitting as the Garden has been in years, let alone this pandemic season when the building’s been mostly empty.

But Hawks point guard Trae Young was louder on Sunday night. He quieted the roar and Atlanta escaped with a 107-105 victory over the Knicks in a Game 1 thriller on a night Julius Randle’s playoff debut was a quiet dud.

In his own first playoff appearance, Young hit the game-winner with 0.9 seconds left as he deked defensive specialist Frank Ntilikina, drove past him with a series of crossover moves and hit his patented floater over Randle to break the tie. Suddenly, 15,000 frenzied fans who had chanted his name in vain earlier in the night went still.

After his basket, Young took his fingers to his mouth and made a gesture of shushing the crowd that chanted his name in profane fashion beginning with his first 3-point make in the first quarter.

“I’ve always looked at it as I’m doing something right,” Young said. “If I’m offending them with my play that they hate me that much, I’m obviously doing something right.’’

It was such a tough loss that I didn’t feel like doing a post-game post last night, so here it is now.

That sucked.

But obviously, they lost by two points, it’s not like they got their ass kicked. I wouldn’t lean too much on “Our guys shot poorly” when they also had key players who shot terribly (until making their shots late when it counted, which was true for Randle, as well, as he hit a contested three that put the Knicks up 101-100 late in the game), but I think whenever you lose by two points scored late in the game, it means you clearly were in the game. Young just was the best player on the court last night. Let’s hope that’s not the case on Wednesday.

I sometimes think Thibs just continues to start Payton to see how strong the power is on his “appeal to authority.” The Payton thing was a miss, but otherwise, I think Thibs did a fine job coaching last night. I think the Hawks just had better players last night. At the end of the game, there are only a handful of Knicks you actually want to have the ball (or rather, there’s only a handful of Knicks who ever will shoot the ball) while the Hawks got big threes from DeAndre Hunter and Bogo (who hit one of the coldest-blooded threes you’ll ever see, with a muffled pass and a defender draped all over him he somehow squeezed out a game-tying three from the corner) and obviously Young feels confident in going to Gallo (who I practically expected to do one of the wrestling heel moves where he tears off his Hawks jersey to show he was wearing a Knick jersey all along, that’s how much he hurt the Hawks last night. He was practically the Knicks MVP), Huerter, Collins and Capela, as well (and Lou Williams was outstanding himself when he took over the offense for a while). However, calling his own number was typically the right call for Young, as he sliced and diced the Knicks strong defense with his insane speed.

Now, having Alec Burks inbound the ball with less than a second left when he’s the guy you probably want taking that shot? Probably not the best idea, but overall, the Knicks lost because Trae Young had a superstar game and Randle did not. I don’t even really mean that as a knock on Randle, but just saying that Young had a superstar game and he did not and the Hawks won by just two points. It’s really as simple as that.

Let us hope that the Knicks get even on Wednesday.

NY Post: It’s All Happening, People!

Okay, I came up with that modified headline.

From Marc Berman:

Julius Randle raised his arms at the buzzer that ended the game and the regular season after the Knicks survived Sunday like they always seem to do.

Bring on Hotlanta!

The Knicks finished up their riveting regular season at the Garden on Fan Appreciation Day before a pandemic-reduced crowd of 1,981 and will open the playoffs here under the famed pinwheel ceiling next weekend for the first time since 2013.

In an ugly one down to the wire, Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks beat the Celtics’ junior varsity, 96-92, to clinch fourth place and home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

I legitimately was never concerned. Not even for a second. Maybe I should have been, but I wasn’t. This team doesn’t do Knicksy stuff, so it was fine all the way.

Congrats to the Knicks and now we get to chill and watch the play-in teams go at each other for our entertainment. Should be fun!

NY Post: Knicks In the Driver’s Seat for the #4 Seed!

I added my own headline now that the Bucks won.

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks still need some assistance to secure the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, but they continue to do whatever they can to attain the best possible postseason positioning.

On Saturday afternoon, the Knicks took care of the first of their final two games, outlasting the Hornets, 118-109, in overtime at the Garden for their 40th win of the season. The victory temporarily moved them back into the No. 4 position in the East — ahead of the idle Hawks via the head-to-head tiebreaker. They also were a half-game ahead of Miami, pending the Heat’s visit to No. 3 Milwaukee on Saturday night.

The Knicks (40-31) will conclude the regular season Sunday at the Garden against the Celtics, while the Hawks will host the NBA-worst Rockets and the Heat will visit Detroit. A three-way tie would give the Hawks the No. 4 slot as Southeast Division champions and drop the Knicks to No. 6 due to a lost tiebreaker against Miami.

In most other seasons, I would expect the Knickiest ending of the Knicks somehow losing to the Celtics tomorrow, but one of the most important things about this team is that they don’t do Knicksy things. In both this game and the Spurs game, the Knicks got knocked on their heels by a big run by the other team (“It’s the NBA. Everyone makes a run.”), but the Knicks got right back up and took care of business. That differentiates them from past Knick teams and that’s all Thibs.

So I find it very difficult to believe that they’re going to lose to some scrubby Celtics team that doesn’t even need to win tomorrow, so might even rest their starters.

The Knicks are this close to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Amazing.

And come on, when Jimmy Butler missed tonight’s game, you can’t tell me that you didn’t get that feeling that this Knicks’ season has had more than a dollop of pixie dust on it, right? Thibs creates a lot of magic pixie dust himself, but they’ve also been blessed with stuff like that, too, all season long and it’s been much appreciated.

So I now expect a Joel Embiid playoff injury after the Knicks take care of the Hawks, when Trae Young slips on a banana peel or some shit and misses three games of the first round series.