It’s been so long since we’ve done a Knicks playoff preview that I am unsure how to actually do one. So let me do it as a matchups sort of deal.
The Hawks’ star player is Trae Young, a talented scorer and disher who will forever be known as the guy that the Hawks foolishly thought was better than Luke Doncic. Still, he’s an excellent player in general, although you would have to believe that his strategy of flopping his way to foul calls will not work as well during the postseason. However, at the same time, he lost out on an All-Star spot to Jaylen Brown playing with half a lung, so how good is he really? Lou Williams backs him up and that’s like having Elfrid Payton playing point guard for you. Not a good idea. Derrick Rose, meanwhile, is a finalist for Sixth Man of the Year. Is Trae Young a finalist for any award? Nope, so I think it is clear that this one is Advantage: Knicks
The Hawks got a boost when they received Bogdan Bogdanovic back from a major injury earlier in the year. That guy shoots a ton of threes and makes a lot of them. Deandre Hunter has played well and he’s been a strong defender (and it’s really weird looking at the Pelicans and thinking, “Huh, wouldn’t Deandre Hunter make a lot more sense for them than Jaxson Hayes and Nickeil Alexander-Walker?” What an odd trade for them that was). Lou Williams is basically the ghost of Lou Williams at this point, but that’s still relatively not awful. Kevin Huerter is a nice glue guy who is somehow the #2 guy on the team in minutes per game and Tony Snell somehow has hit 56% of his threes this year. The Knicks, on the other hand, have the steady combination of RJ Barrett and Reggie Bullock as their wings, with Bullock’s strong defense and excellent outside shooting leading to him likely finally cashing in on his career (he’s literally made the same amount in his career as Frank Ntilikina, which is insane). Alec Burks plays the Lou Williams role on this team, only he does it better than Lou Williams at this point in their respective careers and Immanuel Quickley can obviously light it up when need be. Cam Reddish will miss the series, which almost tipped this thing in the Hawks’ favor, but it’s still Advantage: Knicks
John Collins is a good player. Not a good defender, but he’s a good player overall. Danilo Gallinari is a fine stretch four who can really help the Hawks soar when they have one of their crazy “Everyone shooting three pointers” lineups out there. Julius Randle, though, is quite possibly an All-NBA player this year. And since he’s been playing 57 minutes per game, he is better used to playing more minutes in the playoffs (at least I hope that that math checks out). Advantage: Knicks
Clint Capela is a lot to deal with, but at the same time, he was traded so that the Rockets could start a 5 foot 3 guy at center, so how good can he really be? Nerlens Noel, meanwhile, has little twigs for fingers and yet can block shots like crazy and Taj Gibson apparently shoots himself up with the blood of the younger Knicks (this is why Kevin Knox, Theo Pinson and Jared Harper don’t play much. Too much blood loss) and is playing like he’s 27 again. This is actually the tightest category, I think, but still…. Advantage: Knicks
Nate McMillan whines and believes that the NBA is having the Knicks and Hawks play on Sunday to…benefit the Knicks, somehow? Tom Thibodeau, though, does things just to make sure that appeals to authority can still be invoked, so that’s a win for Thibs. Thibs, also, is a finalist for Coach of the Year and McMillan isn’t even the official coach of the Hawks, so how good can he be? Advantage: Knicks
When you add in the advantage of the roaring crowds at MSG, I pick the Knicks to win this one in three games (four if three games is mathematically impossible).
Also, as part of our all-poll content (I think we all know that the move to all-poll content here was why the Knicks became so good this season)…