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.

2021 NBA Playoffs Game Thread: Knicks @ Hawks, Game 4 – Elf’s Mother Is Going to Be Mad Again

The Knicks try to even up their playoff series against the Hawks in Game 4 in Atlanta, after a disappointing blowout loss to the Hawks where Atlanta maintained a double-digit lead for pretty much the entire second half of the game (every time the Knicks seemed poised to cut it to single digits, the Knicks missed a shot and then the Hawks seemed to hit a big three).

Elfrid Payton’s mom is going to be mad again (she trolled the Knicks on Twitter after Game 3 for losing the game after benching her son) as the Game 3 starting lineup of Rose and Taj in for Payton and Noel will repeat again today.

There is a lot of sad takes on the Knicks right now because they’re trailing in the series, but since it is only a single game, that whole deal can change on a dime with a win today.

Let’s hope that Randle has one of those monster superstar games we all know he can pull off (he’s scored over 40 against the Hawks twice before this season. He’s only done it four times in his whole career!).

Let’s go, even this series, Knicks (I even had this post go up at 12:21 to symbolize how this series will hopefully be evened after today’s game)!

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!

2021 NBA Playoffs Game Thread: Knicks @ Hawks, Game 3 – Thibs Finally Made The Move!

Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, who have been the keys to the Knicks in the playoffs so far, will move into the starting lineup tonight as the Knicks headed to Atlanta for Game 3 against the Hawks!

Great job by Thibs adjusting. Hopefully Rose gets Randle heavily involved right away.

It’s all happening, people!

Let’s go, take control of the series, Knicks!!

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!

2021 NBA Playoffs Game Thread: Knicks vs Hawks, Game 2 – Let Us Hope That Trae Young Listens to the Mayor

After Trae Young sliced and diced the Knicks up in Game 1, including hitting the game-winning shot, the Mayor suggested (for some reason) that Young should stop “hunting for fouls” and “play the game the right way.” It’s nonsense, of course, but hey, feel free to follow the Mayor’s advice tonight, Trae!

The newly minted Most Improved Player of the Year, Julius Randle, should hopefully, well, you know, improve over his performance in Game 1. If he has a superstar game, the Knicks could easily take this one.

Elfrid Payton is still starting. Well, that’s one way to do things.

Let’s go, even things up, Knicks!

Mitchell Robinson Still Out For Tonight’s Game

Holy shit! I thought Mitch might make it back for the playoffs, but I was thinking second round for sure (and even there, it wasn’t like I was confident in it happening). If he’s a game-time decision tonight, that means he is actually seriously close to returning. If not tonight, then soon and that would be amazing.

I’d probably continue to start Noel, just to avoid fucking with his head, as apparently he really wants to start. Just let Mitch close the game out.

Apparently it was just some BS. Mitch is still not close to returning. Boo.

ESPN.com: New York Knicks’ Julius Randle wins NBA’s Most Improved Player Award

From ESPN.com:

Few expected the New York Knicks to make a push for the playoffs, let alone come away with home-court advantage in the first round. Maybe even fewer expected the jump Julius Randle made this season

On Tuesday night, Randle was officially awarded for it when he was named the NBA’s 2020-21 Most Improved Player.

“I just wanna say thank you to everybody involved,” Randle told reporters on a videoconference shortly after being named the winner. “I mean it truly was a team thing. Everybody in the Knicks organization, top to bottom, I can’t thank everybody enough.

“All my teammates, everybody, they trust me and empower me. I just wanna thank them for allowing me to lead them. And then my family, my wife, my son, everybody, like everybody, has played a part in helping me continue to become the best version of me on and off the court.”

Randle’s son, Kyden, surprised his dad with the award after the Knicks’ practice on Tuesday. Randle received 98 first-place votes out of a possible 100. Detroit’s Jerami Grant, who finished second, received the other two. Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. finished third.

Congrats to Randle! It was well-deserved.

You KNOW Things Are Different For the Knicks Now – They Just Won TWO Draft Pick Tiebreakers

Heck, I think you could even call it three tiebreakers, since the Knicks won the tiebreaker against the Hawks, with the Knicks getting the #19 pick and the Hawks getting the #20 pick and then the Mavericks won a three way tiebreaker, with the Knicks getting the #21 pick rather than #22 or #23.

Magic fucking pixie dust for the win!

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.