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.

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160 thoughts to “NY Post: Trae Young sinks Knicks in heartbreaking Game 1 loss to Hawks”

  1. way cool to watch the knicks in a playoff game, sucks we lost and now have to wait for wednesday to wash away that losing feeling…maybe julius just plays better when he’s tired, hope not though, got to imagine he’ll press even harder next game, let’s hope more of his shots go in…

    going through the box score now, really close game…the biggest difference may have been our 11 turnovers to them only committing 6 turnovers…

    obviously much less is expected of IQ and obi than RJ, but, cool to see both those rooks ready for the bright lights and noise of playoff basketball…

    got a feeling whoever wins game three wins this series…

  2. maybe julius just plays better when he’s tired

    He played badly after the All-Star Game, IIRC, and he’s said he usually is bad off a break. Looking for consolation wherever I can find it. I’m so much more frustrated by that game than if we just got spanked, because it was so winnable, and we blew it down the stretch.

  3. “Also, American Idol still exists?”

    Yes it does and we’d probably be discussing who won the singing contest if not for Thibs.

  4. Nice recap.

    Unfortunately anything and everything that could’ve went wrong did.
    Starting with thibs decision to start elf which put us in a double digit hole straight off the bat.

    Who do you guys want to see starting next game, my vote is for burks.

  5. Elf sucked but he did not put us in a hole. We missed good shots.

    Please for the love of god don’t play him any more, though, Coach.

  6. I really do think the crowd and enormity of the moment got to them in the first half. I think Randle was pressing too hard and then got into his head and I think RJ/Bullocks were missing 3’s they would normally make because of the crowd.

    And I think the turnovers, especially when they had that lead in the 3rd and had the chance to extend it, was due to just getting a little too hyped by the crowd and the energy. For Atlanta, there is something to be said for being the away team in these situations. The energy was just so insane. Hopefully they can manage it better in game 2.

    Hmm. Yeah maybe start Burks and keep the IQ/Rose backcourt for the bench? Between IQ/Rose/Toppin we should have enough offense for the bench.

  7. I do think starting Elf put us in a hole and that’s on thibs. When your starting pg who isn’t any threat to break down defenses and can’t slow the opposing pg exits the game after 8 mins down by double digits, you have put yourself in a hole.
    Thibs finally saw the light, I’d be shocked if elf started game 2

  8. I picked Atlanta to win in the poll the other day (in six) but that was a very winnable game yesterday and we didn’t get the bounces. It was really fun to watch the Knicks in a competitive playoff game against a good team after such a long time even though the end sucked. Any word on Nerlens? I took a quick look this morning and couldn’t find anything. We might get swept if he can’t go.

    He was moving pretty well on the sidelines. I bet he’ll be ready for Game 2.

  9. Having had a night to sleep on the game, I haven’t changed my mind about anything.

    1. They are the better team. Unless we play lock down defense or get good games from all our key players, we are going to lose more often. The only reason we were even in this one was that Burks had a career night. Other than that Randle, Bullock, and RJ were subpar in their key roles on offense. That’s three main players. Randle looked tight to me all night, but I think the entire team felt the pressure in the 1st quarter. There was a massive buildup to the game and imo they felt it early.

    2. IMO we don’t have a good solution for Trae defensively (almost no one does). Rose/Quick can’t defend him at all and Payton is so out of it now he’s unplayable. He’s not even trying on some possessions. Thibs could commit to Frank for Payton’s minutes instead of bringing him in cold for 10 seconds, but we already don’t have enough fire power. I would say the best approach is to give him space and let him shoot from outside. No one can stay in front of him getting up on him. From outside there’s at least some hope he has an off night. He also won’t draw as many fouls like he does when he penetrates. We should also get really physical with him. If we are going to use Payton, at least let him beat Trae up a little. That’s the way teams have had some success with Curry in the playoffs. It’s not like we care if Payton or Frank fouls out. If he does penetrate, let him know he’s in NY and these are the playoffs.

    3. Everything else was more or less a sideshow. Our key players have to play better and we can’t let Trae penetrate and either score or get FTs and take over.

  10. Elf played 4 mins & 15 seconds and left with the score 6-5. Don’t exaggerate. We all watched the game.

  11. It was a gut punch but as a fan I took a lot of solace after the game just from having the Garden back in all its glory. Hearing the crowd in full throat felt like a primal recompense for the last 8 years and took me back to my formative years in the 90’s in the best possible way.

    It just felt different from Linsanity or the 2013 run.

    Good cap Brian.

  12. I just don’t see how you can say Atlanta is clearly better when we lost by 2 and our 3 of our starters who account for most of our offense (Randle, RJ and Bullocks) all had off nights and poor shooting from 3 point land. Yeah, Burks had a great game but its not like putting up 15 to 20 is out of question for him most nights. Rose also had great moments but overall shot just OK. We knock down a few open 3’s in the first quarter and we win this game. We turn the ball over a little less in the 3rd, we win this game. Randle has an average night, we win this game.

    Trae had a great night and he’s gonna be a problem all series for us. No way around that. But I don’t think that makes them the clearly more talented team. I just don’t.

  13. mase: Once he came out the lead mushroomed and the tone was set. I’m not exaggerating

    What is this, superstition? He played 8 minutes and missed 3 shots and made zero and the Knicks lost by 2 with Randle missing 18 of his 24 shots.

    I don’t know what this “tone” is. You think the Knicks stopped playing hard, or the Hawks started playing confidently… because Elfrid Payton came off the floor?

  14. We could have survived a bad Randle night if our starting PG made one bucket during the time he played. He isn’t the only reason we lost, maybe not even the main reason, but he’s been a problem all season and its not like we’re NOT going to play Randle if he’s having an off night. I have much more faith in Randle making up for it in the next few games than I do in Elf even scoring 4 points at this point. Dude is mentally toast right now and needs to go.

    Its tough cause Rose can’t play extended minutes but just let Burks start and give IQ more burn or HELL, break out Villadoza! Let’s do it!

  15. swiftandabundant: I just don’t see how you can say Atlanta is clearly better when we lost by 2 and our 3 of our starters who account for most of our offense (Randle, RJ and Bullocks) all had off nights and poor shooting from 3 point land.

    Brian made a point I agree with. It’s not like all their key players played well. Gallo was horrible. He’s going to have couple of big games before this series is over.

    We can nit pick individual performances to death.

    IMO we have a better defense, but they have more weapons and we have no real answer for Trae. I think we are going to have to fire on almost all cylinders to beat them or figure out how to slow Trae down in crunch time. Those Knicks that had a rough night last night are also going to have to loosen up in game two.

  16. seems like 3pt shooting is down with the start of the playoffs and the return of fans… i’ve said this before but 3pt/ft shooting was abnormally high during the pandemic and that’s probably due to empty arenas… also with the effect of players chasing after crowdpleasing 3s that’s also going to impact shot selection….

    the jazz.. clips.. bucks… nuggets and the knicks were all top 10 in 3p shooting during the reg season and all shit the bed from beyond the arc in game 1…. knicks i believe were also clearly negatively impacted by the garden crowd… besides taj and rose.. none of these guys have probably seen a crowd like that ever…

    might be a fluke…. and there’s not much we can do if it’s not.. but worth monitoring….

  17. I’m having a hard time recalling the pre-Rose days. Did Burks & IQ play together a lot?

    It’s challenging to figure out how much Burks & IQ’s effectiveness is based on playing with Rose. Almost all of Burks’ damage last night, for instance, seemed to come when Atlanta was playing off him to stop the point of attack.

    Everyone seems to play better with Rose but we can’t play him 48 minutes.

    I think the answer is to start Rose and let IQ create offense when he sits. If he really doesn’t want to start Rose for some reason, just get over the fact that Quickley is a rookie and start him. The kid was more poised yesterday for a playoff game than most of the trusted vets.

  18. Playoffs is all about adjustments — biggest ones needed from Game 1:

    1/ Bench Payton: start Rose and bring Quick off the bench

    2/ Guard Trae Young P&R — need to force him left and blitz the P&R, and/or attack the ball and recover in the paint, they ran the same play over and over and we didn’t adjust the defense, leading to uncontested floaters and dunks

    3/ Randle needs to play closer to the basket (inside out vs outside in) and facilitate when he gets the double vs launching fade aways as his preferred mode of shot, maybe he makes those next game, but relying on midrange fadeaways is a bad idea

    4/ We need to run Bogdonavic off the three point line, force him to take twos or finish in the paint

  19. Yeah not everyone plays well in every game, I get that. But my point is that I honestly feel like more of our key players didn’t play well than their key players. I mean, if you just go off of the star player on each team, their star played great and ours played like shit but we still only lost by 2. And really we played better most of the game after the first quarter, which I attribute more to jitters than anything. Elf is a nothing, though, and that hurts us big time.

    Randle was 6 for 23
    RJ was 6 for 15
    Even Rose was just 8-16.
    Bullock was 3 for 9.

    Yeah Burks and IQ were good (as was Toppin) but Randle, RJ, Bullock…that’s 3 starts having bad games and Rose was merely average despite having some big moments.

  20. DudesTown: Yes it does and we’d probably be discussing who won the singing contest if not for Thibs.

    2003 called

    seems like 3pt shooting is down with the start of the playoffs and the return of fans

    14 games so far. Let’s not try to sculpt a full castle of a narrative into the sand here.

  21. Apart from the shooting woes, the Knicks had 11 turnovers to the Hawks’ 6, and anecdotally some of them came at really critical times (like the end of the 3rd quarter with a chance to go up by double digits). Rose had 5 by himself. You can’t lose the turnover differential 2:1 when you are not converting the possessions you get.

    Ultimately, I keep going back to the Bogs 3, in which the Knicks were this close from generating a turnover and end up with a tied game. So frustrating.

  22. I wonder how much of the 3P thing is a week off vs. crowds. What I’m curious about – we swept the Hawks during the regular season but I don’t remember the games too well – did we handle Trey any differently during those games than we did last night?

  23. johnlocke: Playoffs is all about adjustments — biggest ones needed from Game 1:
    1/ Bench Payton: start Rose and bring Quick off the bench
    2/ Guard Trae Young P&R — need to force him left and blitz the P&R, and/or attack the ball and recover in the paint, they ran the same play over and over and we didn’t adjust the defense, leading to uncontested floaters and dunks

    Was about to write this exact same points, you saved me time. Thanx. :)
    Oh, and also agree with your other points. ;)

  24. geo: got a feeling whoever wins game three wins this series…

    So, do we need to be worried if we lose game 2 or only if we lose game 3? :P

  25. 14 games so far. Let’s not try to sculpt a full castle of a narrative into the sand here.

    i mean it could be a fluke… but it’s not just 14 games worth of data… we have a full season and half worth of data… we have the two highest free throw shooting marks occurring this year and last year…. we also have the highest 3p shooting mark when you adjust for volume this year… and you have similar kinds of effects occurring in different sports…

    we had a lot of upsets occurring the first weekend of the playoffs and it was mostly cause these good 3pt shooting teams all shit the bed simultaneously…. i’m willing to bet that’s not an accident….

  26. i mean it could be a fluke… but it’s not just 14 games worth of data… we have a full season and half worth of data… we have the two highest free throw shooting marks occurring this year and last year…. we also have the highest 3p shooting mark when you adjust for volume this year… and you have similar kinds of effects occurring in different sports…

    I’m not writing it off. Playing in what amounts to an empty gym will likely have winners and losers. These may be among the best athletes on the planet, but some will thrive and some won’t. Question is how many and how much.

    NBA regular season 3PAr by year

    2021 39.2
    2020 38.4
    2019 35.9
    2018 33.7
    2017 31.6
    2016 28.5
    2015 26.8
    2014 25.9
    2013 24.3
    2012 22.6
    2011 22.2
    2010 22.2

    So that’s 10 straight years of growth in 3PAr. Would it come as a surprise to find that players are spending far, far more time practicing the most valuable shot in the game, given that whether you’re 5’9″ or 7’1″ or anywhere in between, that shot is one of the main things that can get you fuckin’ paid? Would it shock you to find that the current batch of rookies were hitting the impressionable age of puberty around the time that Steph Curry was starting to hit some of the wildest and most beautiful deep shots in league history? And those kids were almost certainly emulating the first unanimous league MVP in their own gym sessions?

    To be clear, I’m not dismissing your claims. I just don’t think they’re necessarily the reason for this change, especially the sudden dip back to old 3PT% numbers over a period of 14 games with fan noise.

  27. About the game, it’s the playoffs, so for people that don’t remember the 90s (although 2013 left a mark also when IND looked stronger than before), there’s no telling if a team will regress or improve for the playoffs. One clear example of this it’s the Miami Heat, they clearly take a step up (or two) in the playoffs. So maybe the Hawks improve in the playoffs and we don’t, maybe not, but it was only one game and as a lot of the board already said, we were close and were playing… well… not great. :P We’ll have to wait for the next games to check it out.

  28. Defense should be better in the playoffs too. Numbers always go down.

    Why wasn’t Noel in on the final defensive sequence? Did he get hurt or did Thibs prefer Gibson? I think I’d rather have Gibson and Noel out there rather than Randle.

  29. Owen: Defense should be better in the playoffs too. Numbers always go down.

    Why wasn’t Noel in on the final defensive sequence? Did he get hurt or did Thibs prefer Gibson? I think I’d rather have Gibson and Noel out there rather than Randle.

    I was wondering the same thing. On Trae’s final score, when he got by Frank, no one was there to help. If I recall, I think it was Randle that came to help but he was late.

  30. Thibs finally saw the light, I’d be shocked if elf started game 2

    He still started in the second half, though. Just with a super quick hook. I bet he looks at it like, “I gotta get at least eight minutes of Payton in there, if I do it the start of the game, it keeps everything consistent.”

  31. On the P&R, there’s a nice descriptor with video in the Ringer’s review of the playoffs. A double-pick they call the Spain pick and roll, that they threw at us three straight times toward the end, all successful.

    I think the noise of a packed MSG really had an effect. Especially on Randle. The fact that Trae ended the game not celebrating stealing a win with his teammates, but shushing the crowd, suggests that it was something real, and big (and Rama, while I can’t imagine what it’s like to have 15,000 people yelling “Fuck You Raven!” all night at full throttle, his shushing bullshit at the end definitely puts him in the ‘punch in the mouth’ status).

    I’m leaning toward starting Burks. Big firepower to start the game, Rose and IQ are a great tandem off the bench, and honestly Rose looked beat later in the game. Lots of unforced errors, which were key. I’m not blaming Rose, but I think 25 minutes is a good burn for him. 37 minutes, you get what you pay for.

  32. I think the noise of a packed MSG really had an effect. Especially on Randle. The fact that Trae ended the game not celebrating stealing a win with his teammates, but shushing the crowd, suggests that it was something real, and big (and Rama, while I can’t imagine what it’s like to have 15,000 people yelling “Fuck You Raven!” all night at full throttle, his shushing bullshit at the end definitely puts him in the ‘punch in the mouth’ status).

    The crowd noise clearly had an impact. They showed McMillan specifically telling the other Hawk players to look at Young because they couldn’t hear Young call plays out because of the noise.

  33. He still started in the second half, though. Just with a super quick hook. I bet he looks at it like, “I gotta get at least eight minutes of Payton in there, if I do it the start of the game, it keeps everything consistent.”

    Consistency seems, at least at the start of games, seems to be a big thing for Thibs. He shifts the closing lineup from game to game depending on matchups or who’s hot, but aside from some very brief Bullock/Burks tinkering (which I may have simply imagined), the only times he has messed with the starting lineup has been due to injury. And even then, he often goes out of his way to keep guys in their spots in the rotation. So for the one game Randle missed, Thibs started Taj (who wasn’t a rotation mainstay at that point, with both Mitch and Noel healthy) rather than Obi (who admittedly wasn’t playing well at the time, but still would have given us more offensive firepower than Taj).

    I hate seeing Elf play even a handful of minutes, but I at least understand Thibs’ mindset, even if I strongly disagree with it in this case.

  34. Tweets from today’s media availability:

    @NYPost_Berman
    Thibodeau did not say specifically Elfrid Payton is starting tomorrow. Danced around the query.

    @StevePopper
    Thibodeau basically said that they will put the best players on the floor.

    @MikeVorkunov
    Knicks center Nerlens Noel “tweaked his ankle,” Tom Thibodeau says. “We’ll see where he is tomorrow. Should be fine.”

  35. Berman of the Post then corrected his tweet, acknowledging that he meant Wednesday:

    @NYPost_Berman
    Yea, Payton definitely not starting tomorrow as there is no game. But Thibs did a lot of new dance steps when asked if he’s considering The Move for Wednesday.

  36. On Trae’s final score, when he got by Frank, no one was there to help. If I recall, I think it was Randle that came to help but he was late.

    The help was at the top of the key in the form of taj gibson. But Frank fucked up and turned into his help’s direction, making it TWO defenders covering Trae’s weak side and no one on his strong side. It was really a terrible defensive play by Frank, who had just one job in that moment: don’t let him go right. I hope you can at least see that. If you want to defend it by saying he was cold, ok. But Frank guarded Trae about as bad as you can guard a ballhandler.

  37. Hubert: But Frank played Trae about as bad as you can play a guard.

    Well not quite. If it was Elf he would have listlessly trailed the play, and probably pushed Trae in the back at the last moment while Trae was shooting the floater.

    But I get your point.

  38. Hubert: The help was at the top of the key in the form of taj gibson. But Frank fucked up and turned into his help’s direction, making it TWO defenders covering Trae’s weak side and no one on his strong side. It was really a terrible defensive play by Frank, who had just one job in that moment: don’t let him go right. I hope you can at least see that. If you want to defend it by saying he was cold, ok. But Frank guarded Trae about as bad as you can guard a ballhandler.

    This. Absolutely this. I think we lost mostly b/c Randle was off, but that last play was exactly as Hubert describes above.

    And FWIW Thibs did put in Frank as a stopper as some of us have been calling for (myself included) but it really did not work.

    As for Wednesday, I want more Quick and more Obi, and I really don’t want Thibs to break DRose. However that shakes out with Elf or no Elf minutes is fine with me. Dude was a non-factor.

  39. There was a time you could argue Payton was still the best “pure point guard” type on the team. The guy has been on the NBA leaderboards for AST% a few times and is the only guard on our roster that can reasonably be described as “pass first.”

    That time has come and gone. He is quite simply no longer good at anything such that I literally cannot think of a single tradeoff we’d be making if we gave his 8 minutes to Rose/Quickley/Burks. My choice would probably be Quickley because I think I agree with Thibs in thinking Rose is needed off the bench to make sure one of him and Randle is on the floor at all times and Quickley brings a bit more secondary playmaking than Burks, but seriously any one of those 3 instead of Payton will suffice at this point.

    I brought this up last night and I don’t think it’s going to happen because we haven’t done it all year, but I would really like to see more of an effort to get Randle some easier looks. I know he’s been feasting all year on a steady diet of contested midrange/3PT shots, but we know the guy can finish around the rim so a couple of PNRs with him and Rose would be nice to see. Seems like that would be the best way to exploit Trae on defense, too.

  40. Owen:
    Good if painful account of Trae’s shot. Didn’t realize Gibson blew up the play by getting Collins’ shoe off.

    Didn’t even notice the lost shoe when watching live!? :O

  41. I know it was only 1 play, but I’m gonna go ahead and say Frank can’t guard Trae. Still a better option than Elfrid

  42. frank bit hard on trae’s fake to his left…

    yeah, I’m not so sure about bringing a guy in for a few seconds each game as a defensive stopper…seems even harder to perform that specific task than coming off the bench to stand around the arc and hit a three..

  43. taj is funny to watch, he pushes guys in the back while they’re running and gets little shots in on folks all the time…

  44. ugh, 2 more days left before we play again and hopefully wash away this bad game from memory…

  45. Unfortunately missed the game live due to work but watched it a few hrs later w/o knowing the score…still heartbreaking…

  46. Agree with Swift
    Lost our chances to take over the game when we took a good lead so we let the game becoming a coin flip

  47. Frank’s hardest mission was avoiding fouling while defending Trae
    Not his best one but neither as ugly as others are saying

  48. thenoblefacehumper:
    There was a time you could argue Payton was still the best “pure point guard” type on the team. The guy has been on the NBA leaderboards for AST% a few times and is the only guard on our roster that can reasonably be described as “pass first.”

    That time has come and gone. He is quite simply no longer good at anything such that I literally cannot think of a single tradeoff we’d be making if we gave his 8 minutes to Rose/Quickley/Burks. My choice would probably be Quickley because I think I agree with Thibs in thinking Rose is needed off the bench to make sure one of him and Randle is on the floor at all times and Quickley brings a bit more secondary playmaking than Burks, but seriously any one of those 3 instead of Payton will suffice at this point.

    I brought this up last night and I don’t think it’s going to happen because we haven’t done it all year, but I would really like to see more of an effort to get Randle some easier looks. I know he’s been feasting all year on a steady diet of contested midrange/3PT shots, but we know the guy can finish around the rim so a couple of PNRs with him and Rose would be nice to see. Seems like that would be the best way to exploit Trae on defense, too.

    Like I said in the thread b4 this one, once Payton is removed from the starting 5, he’s D-O-N-E. There’s nothing about his current skillset that would help the 2nd unit. So the only plausible argument left for me is that his 10-12 minutes/game as starter keeps Rose/Burks/IQ in rhythm (which is actually a thing) and from complete overuse. This makes sense to me – the problem is that Payton is literally forcing Thibs to abandon this and ultimately hope that the reward for benching Elf (more productive PG minutes in 1st and 3rd quarters) outweighs the risks (Rose/Burks/IQ overuse/overexposure).

  49. Time for Thibs to make the proper game adjustments, for the players to equalize their inner fluids and let’s go get the next one!

  50. I have sort of offered a lukewarm defense of Thibs’ thinking of Payton as a defensive minutes-eater at the beginning of halfs, but whoever this guy is is not the Payton that earlier in the season could make a valid argument of that approach. Like all of us, I hoped he would get some kind of playoff electric shock therapy kind of jolt and get back to his best (still not good but meh) self. Didn’t happen. So there is literally no reason to take this any further other than stubbornness.

    That said, in this game, I don’t think it mattered if we were up 10 or down 10 going into the 4th quarter. It was going to come down to the wire, and the truth is they both out-executed us and got luckier than us (that RJ deflection to Bogs ripped our guts out.) We got a tiny bit lucky too…Taj collected that miss off a fortunate bounce to set up Rose’s floater to tie…but it was not Payton who cost us that game. Julius dribbling out of bounds, or getting stripped for that Lou Williams 3 were two critical turning points. Bullock missed open look after open look. Burks and Randle both missed a critical FT. Frank got smoked by Trae on the last possession. No one in a Knicks uniform could put it in the ocean the first 10 minutes of the game. And still things came down to the final possessions. It’s gonna be that way all series long. The team that executes best in the last 2 minutes will win, and that seems to be in their favor since they have tons of scorers and a crafty PG who can score at all 3 levels and draws fouls with the best of them.

  51. Hubert: The help was at the top of the key in the form of taj gibson. But Frank fucked up and turned into his help’s direction, making it TWO defenders covering Trae’s weak side and no one on his strong side. It was really a terrible defensive play by Frank, who had just one job in that moment: don’t let him go right. I hope you can at least see that. If you want to defend it by saying he was cold, ok. But Frank guarded Trae about as bad as you can guard a ballhandler.

    I’ll have to watch the replay again.

    What I saw live was a dazzling sequence of crossovers that put Frank off balance for a split second. That gave Trae the split second he needed to go right and around him.

    As much as I wish Frank would have stopped him because that was his only job and he failed, the flip side is Trae is a great offensive talent. He probably would have done the same thing to peak Beverly there even if it came with a different move. I don’t think being cold had much to do with it, but I wouldn’t know.

    Trae is blossoming into a great offensive player. He’ll never get the hype that Doncic gets, but he’s playing smarter than Doncic now. He isn’t stat stuffing, taking bad shots, forcing as many bad passes and turning the ball over as much etc.. any more. He’s playing the right way ever since Nate McMillan took over. Major kudos to Nate McMillan for getting him to change and major kudos for Trae for figuring out that winning in not about his own boxscore stats and hype.

  52. Berman is hinting that Thibs may be done starting Payton. He said Frank’s role may expand. I can’t see that. Even if it’s just for 10-12 minutes and Rose gets the remainder, I don’t think we have enough firepower in the starting lineup to add Frank.

  53. I could see any of Rose, IQ, or Burks sliding into the starting spot, and Jowles’ favorite Knick getting ~5 minutes per half to help spell those guys. There’s no lineup where Payton is of any value anymore, where Frank’s offensive limitations can be hidden if he’s on the court as a spot-up wing alongside some combo of the three aforementioned guys.

  54. Nothing says “we’re a 4-seed” like a discussion about whether Payton or [redacted] should play meaningful minutes in the playoffs against a team with an elite offensive PG.

  55. DudesTown:
    This game was lost because of Julius Randle, not because of Frank.

    I think everyone knows that, but it was a high profile play, he failed, and there are still plenty of closet Frank haters that will seize on any failure even if they don’t realize it.

  56. Personally I’d be extremely pissed if Frank had sent Trae to the line for easy money by committing a silly foul. Not for contesting his drive by giving him 1-2m distance to avoid fouling.
    And Trae ain’t Payton. He’s a crossover/finisher demon to be fair. Fucked us all over the game, not just on the last possession.
    10-15 Frank on Trae minutes would be a nice Thibs bet imo

  57. The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    Nothing says “we’re a 4-seed” like a discussion about whether Payton or [redacted] should play meaningful minutes in the playoffs against a team with an elite offensive PG.

    We have two PGs on this team.

    1. Rose
    2. Payton

    Rose can’t defend Trae at all and has to have some kind of minutes limitation. He can’t be pushed into 40 minutes every night. He’ll break down.

    Payton can’t guard Trae, is in some kind of confidence related death spiral on offense, and looks like he has mentally checked out and wants to go home. I saw one possession last night where he basically didn’t even try. If he was playing his best ball, he wouldn’t be ideal, but at least he’d be making plays and have occasional nights where he made a positive contribution on offense.

    There are no good options. Quick, Burks, and Frank all have major problems. Using Luca Vildoza at this stage would be be an act of desperation. If they go down 0-2, it would still be an act of desperation. I very much doubt he’s a solution to Trae young.

    We all know we need a PG. Thank God Thibs was smart enough to insist on Rose. It was an easy call, but not everyone was in favor.

  58. Deeefense: still plenty of closet Frank haters that will seize on any failure even if they don’t realize it.

    Ain’t no closet Frank haters. They’re all out of the closet and dancing in the streets, darlin’.

  59. Watching Vildoza in these series would mean that we’re in big trouble…unless he’s kno3x3ing in workouts!

  60. Does Trae ever go to his left? Seemed like every one of his buckets (except the one 3) was from the right side of the lane.

    There should be a defensive remedy for that, no?

  61. We may be focusing on Trae too much bc of the last shot and because it all fits with our frustration with Elf (and obsession with Frank hahaha).

    I’m more worried about their strong D on Randle. I don’t think it’s as simple as he had an off night. I hope Thibs has a plan to get Julius some more comfortable looks early on. If Julius had had even his average game from the regular season, today we might be saying things like “Sure, Trae is gonna get his stats, but we’re too deep for them, bc Burks, DRose, IQ, and Reggie can all go off on any given night.”

    Somebody on the last thread was breaking down how the Hawks were successfully squeezing Randle into awkward spots without fully committing to the double. He better figure that out.

    As for point, Burks impressed me a few times last night with some timely assists. He could start for sure.

  62. Just watched 5min of Trae highlights to check his always going to the right tendency.
    1. 5min felt like 1min
    2. He mostly goes right but also stops, pops doing crossover, under the legs or spin dribbles to change direction leaving defenders wondering as Roden’s statues
    3. He’s jawdropping

  63. Derrick Rose finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting to Jordan Clarkson, who won, and Joe Ingles, who got to surprise Clarkson with the trophy on TNT’s pregame show tonight. Full balloting here.

  64. I thought except for a couple of stretches late in the 2nd and 3rd quarters the Knicks played as bad as we could’ve feared and still they should’ve won the game. Knicks will win Game 2, split in Atlanta and it will be 2-2 going into Game 5 like most people expected. These 2 teams are extremely similarly matched, this series is destined to go 6 or 7 games.

  65. Derrick Rose finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting to Jordan Clarkson, who won, and Joe Ingles, who got to surprise Clarkson with the trophy on TNT’s pregame show tonight. Full balloting here.

    3rd place for Rose is a nice return on the minimal investment made in him. His past criminal charges still don’t sit right with me regardless of the outcome so I am wary of lumping too much praise on him, but credit to him for making the most of his second NY stint.

  66. I think everyone knows that, but it was a high profile play, he failed, and there are still plenty of closet Frank haters that will seize on any failure even if they don’t realize it.

    To be fair to us Frank skeptics, what else do we have to point to besides this one possession in this one game to justify our position?

    If we don’t seize on this we’ll be desperately forced to resort to “the entirety of his professional career!”

  67. Milwaukee may be soft but Miami is getting it pretty hard right now

  68. Rose was never charged, FWIW. The deposition in the civil case was pretty gross though.

    Milwaukee may be soft but Miami is getting it pretty hard right now

    but but but muh narrative

  69. Alan:
    Derrick Rose finished third in Sixth Man of the Year voting to Jordan Clarkson, who won, and Joe Ingles, who got to surprise Clarkson with the trophy on TNT’s pregame show tonight. Full balloting here.

    I love that there’s an entire 2021 Sixth Man Ballot Knicks Bench Team:

    PG – Rose
    SG – Hardaway
    SF – Anthony
    PF – Portis
    C – Kanter

    I like our bench better, though.

  70. We could split the last play in milliseconds, assign blame and weight responsabilities till our fingers’ll bleed.

    But his antics aside (and I’m firmly on the “punch in the face” side) Trae Young is a star,
    a great offensive player with limitless range, killer dribble, a masterful floating game and a great vision, that plays the most important position in modern basketball, the scoring PG, at a level we have not had in a long time.

    Hat tip to him and let’s move on to game two.

    We stayed in the game until the end despite our main players having bad games, so this very balanced serie, if we play as we can, is far from over.

  71. If your confidence in Elf was such that he was only guaranteed 8 minutes if things didn’t go well, you shouldn’t have played him at all.

    If you think Frank is good enough to play defense cold on the last possession of a tie playoff game, you should have played him more than just that possession.

    With that out of the way, let’s get a win in Game 2, get Randle and Bullock back to what they were the last six weeks, and this will all be fine. You can even play Frank and it will still be fine. If R&B play like they played last night, there’s trouble ahead.

    Honestly, as awesomely awesome as it was, I think the intensity of the building got some of the Knicks nervous or adreneline-d or otherwise out of their normal zones. I doubt the Game 2 crowd will be like that (*) and even if it is, everyone’s had a game to adjust.

    (*) I doubt there’s ever been a first half of a Game 1 of an NBA playoff series that has been that loud, and that would even go for Finals games. It was unreal.

  72. Rose was never charged, FWIW. The deposition in the civil case was pretty gross though.

    Thanks for the clarification. I thought I might have had it wrong, but generally where there is smoke there’s fire, and I certainly recall some of the details of the civil case were very irksome to say the least.

    Back on topic, but yikes Miami. You don’t need to be a basketball genius to know giving up 78 points in a half aint good playoff basketball.

  73. One thing Nate McMillan deserves credit for is reining in Trae Young from putting up those 30 foot 3 point bombs. He’s actually not a great 3 point shooter (career 34%) so he’s doing you a favor when he fires those deep threes.

    Last night he only attempted three total and made one.

  74. Does anyone think it odd that Austin Rivers is starting for the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs?

  75. Raven: Does anyone think it odd that Austin Rivers is starting for the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs?

    Jamal Murray with one leg might be a better starter

  76. How the fuck does Utah get the 1st AND 2nd place vote-getters for “SIXTH” man of the year? Isn’t there, by definition, one sixth man per team?

  77. ess-dog:
    How the fuck does Utah get the 1st AND 2nd place vote-getters for “SIXTH” man of the year? Isn’t there, by definition, one sixth man per team?

    Joe won the NBA Seventh Man Award.

  78. I might have to reconsider giving up everyone of our assets including RJ and Obi to get Dame Lillard

  79. Okay, I was wrong. It’s the Damian Lillard game. He’s going for 60 . He’s throwing them up from the logo.

  80. Nikola Jokic is to basketball what Jose Raul Capablanca was to chess. A natural offensive genius who, although not the best ever, operated with an amazing light touch and offensive flourish that put him heads and shoulders above the rest of his contemporaries.

  81. Are you guys really just watching Lillard for the first time? This guy got the Blazers to the 6th seed in west with McCollum and Nurkic missing a combined 80 games. He could basically lead a lineup of Pinson, Pelle, Toppin, and Knox to home court advantage if he played in the east.

  82. couldn’t bear to come to Knickerblogger after game 1 but I feel less traumatized now.

    My quick thoughts, which have probably already been beaten to death already in previous threads:

    1) Trae Young is good, like really good. Gotta punish him on the other end. Seemed like every time they got him on a switch it ended in a score or other great shot. Julius and/or RJ should go Trae-hunting on every possession. And when he’s on the bench, they need to go Gallo-hunting. (And was anyone else super-irritated with Spero Dedes calling his Goll-ee-nah-ree the whole night? I mean maybe that’s how it is in Italian, but we’ve been calling him Gallinari forever).

    2) Agree with the Trae Young going right thing. Certainly someone via Second Spectrum should be able to see how often he gets to his floater going left. Agree that Frank kinda shit the bed that last possession, but honestly, what do you expect having him play 10 seconds/night? And last possession – don’t you have to Steph Curry him and make him give the ball up to anyone not named Bogdanovic? I will 100% take my chances with Deandre Hunter trying to create something with 4 seconds left.

    3) They did a nice job on Capela. Gotta keep that up.

    4) Elf better be out of the starting lineup tomorrow night or honestly, the crowd should boo Thibodeau. This is such a giant blind spot. I don’t care who is agent is, or about continuity or whatever. Payton has been actively detrimental to the team for well over a month now (maybe was barely neutral before that). It’s the freaking playoffs and we’re down 0-1.

    In terms of who should start instead of him? It’s never going to happen, but I would actually consider starting Rose AND Burks, thereby giving Trae no one to hide on. And then hunt him no matter where he is on the court.
    You either get him in foul trouble, and/or score mercilessly on him, and tire him out.

  83. Lillard was supposed to be a free agent this summer but chose to sign a 4 year extension instead. I imagine Leon Rose would be interested in acquiring him if he became available via trade, but I don’t expect Lillard to make that kind of noise.

    Hypothetically, what do you think the cost of Lillard would be? I’m looking at Harden as a template here, so my guess is Obi, Mitch, Quickley, three firsts, plus some swaps. Seems a little rich for my blood. A Lillard-Barrett-Bullock-Randle-Noel team is pretty sweet, but I don’t think it’s worth going all in for.

  84. I honestly wouldn’t even mind a few offensive fouls going at Trae. Put that shoulder into his chest and send him flying 15 feet. A couple of those and it’ll be matador-D time for him. Not that Trae would ever take a charge by the way.

    Anyone remember whether Thibs has any history of mismatch hunting in the playoffs?

  85. Good points, Frank. Watching the Knicks let Atlanta hide both Gallo and Trae on defense was very frustrating in game 1. I know they were using Capela as a shadow, but you need to take advantage of that. When the Knicks saw Capela ready to help, they (mostly Randle) said “oh shit” and either passed the ball or settled for a long jumper. What the fuck was that? You’re supposed to be excited that you just tilted the court and take advantage. It was very poor.

    I get that some are disappointed we didn’t adjust during the game. But I really trust this team and its coaching staff to look at film and figure it out. I expect us to win games 2 & 3. And then we’ll see if Nate McMillan has another trick up his sleeve.

  86. Frank:
    they need to go Gallo-hunting.(And was anyone else super-irritated with Spero Dedes calling his Goll-ee-nah-ree the whole night?I mean maybe that’s how it is in Italian, but we’ve been calling him Gallinari forever).

    To be honest Dedes’ calling is the closest thing to the real pronunciation of his name I have heard in 13 years…
    For a moment I thought I left the italian broadcast on…

    :-)

    But it wasn’t as funny as Mike Breen starting to call “Reggie Bul-Lock” last year…

  87. Hubert:
    Good points, Frank. Watching the Knicks let Atlanta hide both Gallo and Trae on defense was very frustrating in game 1. I know they were using Capela as a shadow, but you need to take advantage of that.

    I didn’t have the stomach to re-watch the game (one time is enough thank you) but Vorkunov wrote that Randle was 1-6 when guarded by Gallinari and I’m very, very surprised about that.
    Really a bad night for Julius…

  88. Other thing we should consider is staggering Randle’s minutes a little so he is on the court when Capela is not – then put him at the 5.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see how Obi played. The kid has some potential. didn’t play scared at all. And never mind Quickley, who basically singlehandedly kept us in the game in the 2nd quarter.

  89. I didn’t have the stomach to re-watch the game (one time is enough thank you) but Vorkunov wrote that Randle was 1-6 when guarded by Gallinari and I’m very, very surprised about that.
    Really a bad night for Julius…

    Yeah, Gallo was awful on offense last night, but he played very strong defense on Randle and he definitely got in his head as Randle was clearly expecting to be able to feast on him.

  90. If you’re Denver, you have to be pretty confident in just running this same team back next year, just with a healthy Murray and a full season of Aaron Gordon, right?

  91. Max: Vorkunov wrote that Randle was 1-6 when guarded by Gallinari and I’m very, very surprised about that.

    Yeah, I noticed this during the game. Gallo didn’t shoot well (obv) but he was bumping and jawing and really pestering Randle. He had Julius talking to himself and complaining to the refs. Better sort that out.

    EDIT: Jinx, Brian ;-)

  92. Also, I never thought I’d say this, but Aaron Gordon’s contract now looks downright cheap, right? $16 million for next season.

  93. Those Gallo numbers are a little misleading. They never covered him with only Gallinari. Capela (or Ongyewu briefly) was always behind him. The problem was every time Randle saw Capela behind him, he took away his own drive and settled for a long jumper or just passed the ball to a teammate who was in a bad spot bc Julius had just held the ball for 4 seconds thinking about what to do. It got in his head.

    Conversely, when Trae Young saw how he was being guarded (almost the same way), he did not shit the bed and settle for hard jumpers. He attacked the defense and either drew a foul or created an easy shot. Julius Randle was unwilling to do that in game 1. He needs to do it from now on. If he doesn’t, his future bank account is likely going to be a $100 million short.

  94. Those Gallo numbers are a little misleading. They never covered him with only Gallinari. Capela (or Ongyewu briefly) was always behind him.

    Gallo played without either Capela or Ongyewu for 10 minutes, including the last five minutes (4:50) of the third quarter, where Randle was 1-3 against just Gallo, plus Gallo stole the ball from him once during that time. Gallo was quite good on defense on Sunday night. He was just insanely bad on the offensive end (except for that one amazingly wide open three he made after Lou Williams threw that sweet behind the back pass that caught the Knicks defense sleeping badly).

  95. Brian Cronin:
    If you’re Denver, you have to be pretty confident in just running this same team back next year, just with a healthy Murray and a full season of Aaron Gordon, right?

    The problem is Murray isn’t going to be healthy next year, right? He tore the ACL in the middle of April, and with the return of the normal schedule next year…maybe he makes it back around the start of the playoffs but it seems fairly unlikely that they get him back to anywhere near his pre-injury level until the start of the following season. And that would be after Gordon’s free agency and with MPJ on a new contract also. Given their ownership it seems close to impossible to keep all four of those guys together at that point. I’m not sure we’re ever going to see what might’ve been for them (and I think they would’ve had a pretty good shot to win it all this year).

  96. Shit, you’re right. I forgot just how messed up the ACL recovery was. So, yeah, they’re definitely going to need to acquire a point guard next year. Will they have the mid-level to spend? I wonder if they’d try to force the Knicks to commit MLE money (around $10 million) to Rose to keep him.

  97. Gallo played without either Capela or Ongyewu for 10 minutes, including the last five minutes (4:50) of the third quarter, where Randle was 1-3 against just Gallo, plus Gallo stole the ball from him once during that time. Gallo was quite good on defense last night.

    They also used John Collins. And DeAndre Hunter. What I saw, repeatedly, (and it was there again when I rewatched) is that almost every time Randle got the ball there was a soft double on him. And every time Randle saw it, he hesitated to think about what to do.

    That doesn’t mean Gallo didn’t play well, but it was the tactic that flummoxed Randle more than Gallo. Randle could blow by Gallo the same way Trae blew by every Knick on the court. For whatever reason, he seemed spooked by the 2nd defender.

  98. I wonder if they’d try to force the Knicks to commit MLE money (around $10 million) to Rose to keep him.

    I have to think Rose wants to stay here and keep playing for Thibs. He’s made a lot of money in his career, so he might not require a bidding war.

  99. I’d be quite surprised, maybe even shocked, if Rose is anywhere else next year.

  100. I agree that he’s not going anywhere, but the question is at what price? He’s staying, but how much are they going to have to pay him?

  101. I really wish we had Mitch for this series to help negate Capela, who is a beast. Noah has performed admirably, but Mitch is more of a vertical threat on offense. Wasn’t he maybe supposed to be available for the playoffs?

  102. If they’re going to call ticky tack fouls every time that we look at Trae cross-eyed then why not get our money’s worth and foul him the way that CharlesOakley would have?

  103. Wasn’t he maybe supposed to be available for the playoffs?

    If they make it to the next round, he might be able to return during that series. Stress “might.”

  104. Noah has performed admirably

    I actually don’t think the production he’s given us this season justifies his $6.4M cap hit ;)

  105. I don’t really see Rose holding out for every dollar.
    he’s at the happiness > hunting every last dollar part of his career.
    But who knows I guess?

    my guess is he comes back at a little less than the full MLE number. Definitely deserves that.

  106. Raven: Ain’t no closet Frank haters. They’re all out of the closet and dancing in the streets, darlin’.

    You didn’t have to tell me there are a lot of people that would rather be right than win games. I already knew that.

  107. I agree that he’s not at the “hunt for every dollar” phase of his career anymore, but he just came in third in the Sixth Man of the Year award while making $7.5 million. I think he’s going to want at least mid-level money.

  108. d-mar:
    One thing Nate McMillan deserves credit for is reining in Trae Young from putting up those 30 foot 3 point bombs. He’s actually not a great 3 point shooter (career 34%) so he’s doing you a favor when he fires those deep threes.

    Last night he only attempted three total and made one.

    100% agree.

    Aside from Curry and Lillard, almost no one should be putting them up. Dallas gives KP the green light because they don’t care about maximizing KP’s TS%. The whole offense is designed to give Doncic space to get into the paint. So as long as KP hits enough of them to drag the defender out their data suggests the “team” benefits even if comes out of KP’s TS%.

    Trae is not in the KP role. He’s in the Doncic role. They should be trying to generate space for Trae. If defenders give Trae room to prevent penetration, he should shoot the quality 3s. Almost every time Trae or Doncic takes a really long 3 it’s a dumb shot unless it’s late in the clock.

  109. Aside from Curry and Lillard, almost no one should be putting them up.

    And Quickley, of course.

  110. I would start Payton for the sake of continuity and so that Atlanta doesn’t sense panic from us. I would have no objections, however, to pulling him out of the game after a minute or two, though.

  111. You didn’t have to tell me there are a lot of people that would rather be right than win games. I already knew that.

    didn’t we win a lot of games with this dude sitting on the bench? and didn’t we lose a playoff game using this same dude in the same exact way these other dudes swore was the correct way to use him?

  112. I’m solidifying my view that we should bring back the entire core team and use our picks to bring in a quality starting PG. All of our veteran players other than Taj are young enough for one more contract and we have years of upside from RJ, Mitch, Quick, and even Obi (who is improving fast enough to notice). I see no reason to break this up even partially. If we get the assumed upside and add a legitimate quality PG we are probably a 50 win team next year (maybe more depending on the PG) with still more upside the following year. I see no reason to penny pinch good players and try to replace them with what will probably be inferior players and go backwards. In the immortal words of Teddy KGB, “Pay that man his money”.

  113. Yeah, offensively (for us) I think the key to this series is Randle making the open man pass and RJ/Bullocks hitting their 3’s. If they do that, then they won’t be able to double Randle all the time and he can feast a little more. Hopefully they’re prepared for this in game 2. This is where we see how well Thibs is at adjusting.

    I want to see RJ attack the rim more too. He had good success with that in game one and we need to exploit Trae on defense more. If we can’t stop him on offense we need to get him in foul trouble and make him work hard on the other end so he’s tired at the end of games.

  114. strat, you’re saying there are people on this blog who didn’t want Frank to stop Trae bc they wanted to be right? Come on, man.

    You spent 4 years telling everyone they’re stupid for not knowing how great a lockdown defender this guy is going to be in the playoffs. Then he finally got his chance, he defended worse than Danilo Gallinari did.

  115. ***they’re definitely going to need to acquire a point guard next year. Will they have the mid-level to spend? I wonder if they’d try to force the Knicks to commit… ***

    Worst comes to worst, they can just sign Elfrid Payton to a few one-year contracts…

  116. djphan: didn’t we win a lot of games with this dude sitting on the bench? and didn’t we lose a playoff game using this same dude in the same exact way these other dudes swore was the correct way to use him?

    I think Thibs did the right thing, but rather than enjoy the fact that even though we lost I get to celebrate Frank’s failure, I’m disheartened he got beat because I’m rooting for him to become that 3&D stopper we could use. I also don’t think one play defines him. I’d do the same thing again Wednesday!!! I’d hope he learned from it. If I changed anything, I’d give him more time because Payton is no more useful on offense than Frank. If anything, Frank is more useful. He can hit wide open 3s and we can run the offense through Randle or Rose when he’s on the court instead.

    It’s a tough call for Thibs. He wants to replace Payton as much as we do, but we only have 1 other PG.

  117. Hubert: strat, you’re saying there are people on this blog who didn’t want Frank to stop Trae bc they wanted to be right? Come on, man.

    You spent 4 years telling everyone they’re stupid for not knowing how great a lockdown defender this guy is going to be in the playoffs. Then he finally got his chance, he defended worse than Danilo Gallinari did.

    I’m saying that once we lost there were people that deep down inside were glad it was Frank that got beat instead of someone else.

    As I just said, one play or one game doesn’t mean much. Gallo still sucks on defense and Frank is still a plus defender no matter what happened the other night. When I was kid Wilt Chamberlain used to beat Bill Russell all the time, but Russell was still probably the best defender I ever saw. On some plays Chamberlain was just too good or Russell made a mistake.

  118. djphan: didn’t we win a lot of games with this dude sitting on the bench? and didn’t we lose a playoff game using this same dude in the same exact way these other dudes swore was the correct way to use him?

    Riiiigghtt…. we lost this game because of Frank. And not because Julius went 6-24, Reggie Bullock went 0-5 from 3, and a ball bounced off RJ’s shoulder in just the right way to end up in Bogdanovic’s hands. Just wanted to clear that up.

    Thibs always talks about putting players in the best position to succeed. I’m not sure that was it for Frank. “Hey Frank! I know you’ve been sitting the entire game, but you’ve got ONE POSSESSION guarding one of the best PGs in the league to show all the haters they’re wrong. Go get ’em tiger!”

    Frank definitely is not a great player, but that situation was set up for him to fail – full stop.

  119. I’m not going to kill Elf. He’s what he is. You can’t make a cat bark. Julius was off. The rest didn’t help him. He’ll be insane tomorrow. Rose will play more, but Trae’s a tough cover for him. The idea of starting Vidoza suddenly in the playoffs is not far-fetched. What if in the first game in ATL we start him and Mitch? Wouldn’t that put a bit of a twist into the series?

  120. we spent the better part of a week debating whether or not frank should’ve STARTED because he would shut down trae.. and on the most important possession of the game he failed spectacularly while we have his supporters scrambling for the next excuse….

    no it wasn’t his fault we lost the game… but this was exactly the way folks envisioned him being used going back these four years… he would be a high leverage defender in important playoff games and when given the opportunity he fell flat…

    certainly at THIS point we’ve ran out of excuses…. but here we are…

    mind you for the better part of the last two months… he was using frank exclusively in the 7 seconds or less defensive capacity… so this not setting him up to succeed doesn’t fly…

  121. This whole season has served as irrefutable proof that every member of Team Realist is delighted when their pessimistic projections turn out to be wrong. No one takes any pleasure in being correct about the obvious fact that Frank Ntilikina is not a rotation-worthy player on a good team, and might not be an NBA player at all.

    Frank definitely is not a great player, but that situation was set up for him to fail – full stop.

    Here’s the problem: if that situation is unfair to him because he’s “cold” or whatever, the logical conclusion is that he needs to play more. So now we’re playing probably the most offensively inept player in the NBA rotation minutes to make sure he’s “warm” enough to play defense on crucial possessions. The data is far from clear as to how much he actually adds defensively on those possessions, while the data couldn’t be clearer about how much he takes away on offense generally.

    …do you at least see why I think this is not a realistic role for an NBA player? I mean, Jaden Springer also projects as a good point-of-attack defender, and he put up a 19-5-4/40 line while shooting .475 on twos, .435 from 3, and .810 from the line, and it’s far from a sure thing he’ll have much of a role in the NBA!

  122. djphan:
    we spent the better part of a week debating whether or not frank should’ve STARTED because he would shut down trae.. and on the most important possession of the game he failed spectacularly while we have his supporters scrambling for the next excuse….

    no it wasn’t his fault we lost the game… but this was exactly the way folks envisioned him being used going back these four years… he would be a high leverage defender in important playoff games and when given the opportunity he fell flat…

    certainly at THIS point we’ve ran out of excuses…. but here we are…

    mind you for the better part of the last two months… he was using frank exclusively in the 7 seconds or less defensive capacity… so this not setting him up to succeed doesn’t fly…

    lol sure

    I know you are anti-Frank and I am pro-Frank (naturally!), but cmon dude. You can’t tell me you are setting someone up to succeed by putting him in for 9 seconds at the end of the game after sitting the whole game to guard Trae Young. Yes, that might be his best use, but coming in totally cold is not the way to make sure someone succeeds. This is not an excuse – it’s just truth.

    It’d be like sending in a closer without warm-up pitches to pitch to Mike Trout on a 3-0 count in the bottom of the ninth inning in a tie game. You have zero margin for error and you’ve been sitting the whole game – go for it!

    Matters zero that he’s asked Frank to do this before. It’s been the wrong decision all year, and it was the wrong decision the other night. Instead of Payton getting courtesy minutes for who knows what reason, give those minutes to Frank. If he fails with that, then I have no argument with you.

  123. Can we please spend all day talking about whether Mudiay or Hezonja could thrive under Thibs? That’s what I’d really like. It’s about as useful as trying to squint and see a viable NBA player in [redacted], who is a mother fucking bust.

    “Only I can see his value,” says the [redacted] fanboy. “You’re just not looking at the game correctly. If you did, you’d see what I do, which is correct.”

  124. I agree that this team plus Mitch, plus 2 1st round picks is a 50 win team that is too good to break up with no realistic star options this summer. I’d offer the vets front loaded 1+1’s with team options and keep some flexibility for the summer of ’22. I think Rose and Burks should be the priorities. I’d be really happy to bring them both back for full mle type money.

  125. Here’s the problem: if that situation is unfair to him because he’s “cold” or whatever, the logical conclusion is that he needs to play more. So now we’re playing probably the most offensively inept player in the NBA rotation minutes to make sure he’s “warm” enough to play defense on crucial possessions.

    Dude is shooting league average from 3 on a reasonable # of attempts over 2 years. He’s shooting 48% from 3 this year, yes small sample size. You might have some argument if we weren’t talking about replacing Elfrid Payton, who is actually the most offensively inept player in the NBA. Remember, the difference in offensive RPM between Payton (91st best out of 91 players) and the 81st (Saban Lee) is more than difference between Saban Lee (rookie scrub on the Pistons) and Chris Paul. And that’s the whole season, not the disastrous last month where he’s been easily the worst player in the NBA.

    In 9 games in May, he has a 20 usage and a 34.6% true shooting. You cannot be more inept than that. We could put Jowles on the court and he would be less detrimental than Payton. So when the bar is that low, yes, let’s play Frank those minutes.

  126. I’d be really happy to bring them both back for full mle type money.

    I agree that Rose’s connection to Thibs will likely lead to him being willing to take a deal like that, but I think that Burks and Bullock have likely played themselves past MLE money, so it’s a question of just how much you can frontload their money to make them willing to take a 1+1 when other teams might be offering them three-years at, like, $13 million a year. What NBA team watched Game 1 and didn’t think, “Yeah, Alec Burks can get it”? Bullock had a bad game, but he’s had a full season of excelling while playing precisely the type of role most teams want.

    And it’s really less the money (as sure, I don’t think these guys are suddenly $20 million free agents) but more the years.

  127. FWIW, I don’t think anyone is going to “stop” Trae Young one on one at the end of the game. In the game thread, I called for Frank to be put on Bogdo. I think Frank is more of an aggressive wing defender rather than quick enough to stay with a lightning fast guard.

    Play D assuming that Trae is going to beat the on-ball defender (I’d use Quickley). Someone’s gotta rotate to help when he drives into the lane (hopefully forcing him to pass out) while someone else needs to blanket Bogdo (Frank or Bullock).

    Really, all this might be superfluous if Randle and Bullock play better from here on out.

  128. No one thinks we lost the game because of Frank.

    I’m just pointing out that in the 9 seconds he played he was very ineffective in the role many spent years telling us he would thrive in.

    That said, I wanted him in there. And if we get in the same spot, I’d use him again. I hope there’s a 4Q/OT where Frank plays the whole damn time because he’s so fucking effective.

  129. Yes, that might be his best use, but coming in totally cold is not the way to make sure someone succeeds. This is not an excuse – it’s just truth.

    he’s been literally doing the 7 seconds or less defense with frank for the last two months! how is he NOT prepared to come in a close game? was he not prepared at all the last dozen or so times it happened or something? and it was just THIS time in a PLAYOFF game he was ill prepared? and we’re blaming his coldness or lack of preparedness on thibs? are these last second defensive substitutions some new age thing or something? have coaches all over the nba been doing it wrong the whole time and it took frank getting eviscerated by trae to help the masses realize it?

    when are we actually going to hold frank accountable on anything? i mean most people do… but it still amazes me that there are people still fishing for excuses even after THAT lame performance….

  130. OK, so there’s a three-day gap between games and nature abhors a vacuum and so that means the Iron Law applies and we have to argue about Frank some more.

    Frank is not that great a player and not worth all the effort, but he’s better at basketball than Elfrid Payton and always has been. The only real retort to that is that the Payton line is a really, really low bar — and that’s entirely true. The Elfrid Payton we’re seeing now was always essentially the “real” Elfrid Payton, and the guy’s fucking terrible. He’s lazy on defense, and can’t shoot a lick, and the lane is always a mosh pit when he’s in the game, and it was a mosh pit Sunday night, yet again. He sucks. He’s always sucked. I rooted and hoped for him like crazy the other night and will again Wednesday night if Thibs is stupid enough to play him, but that’s a different issue altogether.

    Frank can shoot the 3 and the D has to account for the potential of Frank shooting the 3, and Frank is an elite defender. He’s better than Elfrid Payton. Again, low bar, but still.

    It was also silly of Thibs to bring Frank in cold. I’m not the only one who’s said this on the interwebs, and it’s not that deep an observation. If he’s good enough to come in cold to play defense on the biggest possession of the game, he’s good enough to play in more of the game. That’s so obvious, it’s getting into QED/mic drop territory.

    Ian O’Connor had a nice column in the Post today on all of this. Thibs is a great coach. He needs to be better Wednesday and the rest of the series. He was not great Sunday. Great and elite players and coaches have so-so nights. We move on.

    EDIT: Elf is not just lazy on defense, he’s unbelievably lazy on defense. The two threes the Hawks got off in the second half with him around, both of which went in, were embarrassments. (One was Hunter: I think the other one was Trae.) His effort on Trae in the first half in transition where Trae wound up ooping to Capela — also an embarrassment. I did not want this to happen; I wanted Elf to get a playoff jolt. But it clearly happened.

  131. I think the argument is more “should [redacted] take the 8 minutes that Elfrid Payton is currently playing because he sucks less at this point” — not “is [redacted] an amazing basketball player or a terrible one?”

  132. So when the bar is that low, yes, let’s play Frank those minutes.

    I think a much plan is to raise the bar and play someone good. It’s not like we don’t have that option.

  133. FWIW, I don’t think anyone is going to “stop” Trae Young one on one at the end of the game.

    Nor do I. I just want someone capable of effectively using a help defender. Even a bad defender like Gallo can be effective when he has help. And Frank had help. It was 2 on 1. But he sold out to the side he had help, and we ended up with two defenders guarding Trae’s left, which was the direction he did not want to go.

    It was really fucking stupid, just like that pointless double he made in the Lakers game that led to an open 3. At what point do you guys admit that his defense is overrated because he makes too many mental errors? The man’s got some JR Smith in him.

  134. Hubert:
    No one thinks we lost the game because of Frank.

    I’m just pointing out that in the 9 seconds he played he was very ineffective in the role many spent years telling us he would thrive in.

    That said, I wanted him in there. And if we get in the same spot, I’d use him again. I hope there’s a 4Q/OT where Frank plays the whole damn time because he’s so fucking effective.

    Yeah, at least he should have shaded him to his left to take away Trae driving to his right. I still don’t think that he, or anyone else, is going to “lock down” Trae one on one. But, if Thibs views him as I said some time ago, as a kinda sorta of MLB lefty specialist, then I guess Frank will get a second chance at Trae late in a game.

  135. djphan: he’s been literally doing the 7 seconds or less defense with frank for the last two months! how is he NOT prepared to come in a close game? was he not prepared at all the last dozen or so times it happened or something? and it was just THIS time in a PLAYOFF game he was ill prepared?and we’re blaming his coldness on thibs?

    when are we actually going to hold frank accountable on anything? i mean most people do… but it still amazes me that there are people still fishing for excuses even after THAT lame performance….

    It’s ridiculous strategy. No other team does this kind of thing in playoff games. It smacks of Thibs hedging his bets, as does the 8 minutes for Elf. He has to stop hedging his bets.

    And the truth of the matter is, not that it matters, is that Frank almost blocked Trae’s shot — and there’s zero question he played Trae there better than Rose or Elf would have. Trae’s an offensive superstar. Offensive superstars take even elite defenders one on one sometimes. Facts.

  136. In 9 games in May, he has a 20 usage and a 34.6% true shooting. You cannot be more inept than that.

    I said nothing in favor of playing Payton and in fact said after game 1 he should see zero minutes going forward. Between Rose, Quickley, and Burks, both Frank and Payton should see zero minutes going forward because they’re both terrible.

    Over the course of their careers Frank has been more offensively inept than Payton, but that doesn’t really matter in this context. Bench both of them and replace both of them ASAP.

    If he’s good enough to come in cold to play defense on the biggest possession of the game, he’s good enough to play in more of the game. That’s so obvious, it’s getting into QED/mic drop territory.

    I’m not sure how close it is to QED territory when the natural retort is “but then he would have to play some possessions on offense.”

    Those minutes on offense could be going to Rose, Quickley, or Burks. So to justify playing Frank you have to say the defensive edge he provides over those guys is greater than the offensive difference. There is no reason to believe that.

  137. At what point do you guys admit that his defense is overrated because he makes too many mental errors?

    This can never happen. The Frank stans are in too deep at this point. There’s always a rationalization.

    “Frank is finally in the role in which he is best suited– playing ten seconds at the end of the game”

    (Trae Young blows right by him)

    “Frank was cold coming off the bench!”

    I kind of hope Frank stays on the team forever just for the lulz

  138. NBA Draft tiebreaker results: No. 19 pick: New York KnicksNo. 20 pick: Atlanta Hawks— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 25, 2021

    NBA Draft tiebreaker results: No. 21: Dallas&No. 22 pick: LA LakersNo. 23 pick: Portland Trailblazers*&Will be conveyed to New York*Will be conveyed to Houston— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) May 25, 2021

    You know this year is different, because this was the best case scenario for our pick situation!

  139. FWIW, I don’t think anyone is going to “stop” Trae Young one on one at the end of the game.

    and this is the reason why frank doesn’t have a place in the nba… or defensive specialists in general… you have to do other things well… like shoot… or rebound… or make a layup when called upon…. you can’t just be a total zero and stay on the court on a regular basis…. because even at your best you’re not really stopping any of the top guards in the nba…

    defensive ‘specialists’ usually do at least one other good thing that shows up in the box score…. like tony allen.. andre roberson… pj tucker.. bruce bowen… marcus smart… these guys had measurable impacts apart from their ‘intangible’ defensive impact…

    for frank… it never has existed…. and that’s sort of the reason he’s had issues making his mark besides on knick internet forums ….

  140. You know this year is different, because this was the best case scenario for our pick situation!

    wow… i would’ve rather taken a few ping pong balls going right for us in 2015 and 2018 but i’ll take two coinflips now….

  141. I’ve read some beer-goggled lunacy about pet Knicks here over the years. From “free Mike Sweetney” to “Cole Aldrich for MVP” to “advanced stats don’t properly capture the efficiency of Carmelo Anthony”. But this Frank stuff takes the cake. If he played on another team, you wouldn’t even know who he was, just like the dozens and dozens of Ntilikina level talents floating around on the bottoms of rosters around the league. (I get that sharing a name with someone is kind of thrilling in a cosmic-yet-childish kind of way, but, granfalloonery aside, were you as protective of Frank Williams and his almost identical .444% career TS back in the day? Cause all I know is I recognize plenty of missteps made by my handlesake Donnie Walsh, and I sure as hell ain’t no blind fan of Donnie Trump.)

  142. thenoblefacehumper:
    You know this year is different, because this was the best case scenario for our pick situation!

    I’m happy with the coin tosses, I just hope we didn’t spend our 36-years credit with the Basketball Gods on the 19th and 21st picks…

    About next year,
    while I hope we keep some of this year free agents,
    I’m cautious to put the bar as high as 50-wins with the same roster.

    Bucks, Phila and Brooklyn aren’t going nowhere, Atlanta is and will be a good team,
    Charlotte, Indiana and Washington, burdened by injuries and/or Covid, will be at full strenght,
    same Boston with Jaylen Brown, and we’ll see what will happen in Miami and Toronto.

    We have our chance for progress (a full year of Mitch, progress from RJ, IQ and Obi, the two picks) but next season will not be a walk in the park and trust everyone to repeat this season/play better is a risk.

    My mantra was and still is that we need a starting PG and if possible a starting wing to go with RJ, Randle, Robinson and a great bench.

  143. FWIW, I don’t think anyone is going to “stop” Trae Young one on one at the end of the game.

    reminder: they were 2 on 1, not 1 on 1.

    Frank had help to one side and he acted like it wasn’t there. He was stupid. Just admit it. He made a mental error that most NBA players would not have made. He didn’t do “as good a job as you could do”. It was a mental error, and he makes a lot of mental errors on defense.

    I lived on Ntilikina Island for 3 years. It’s ok to admit they were right.

  144. It was really fucking stupid, just like that pointless double he made in the Lakers game that led to an open 3. At what point do you guys admit that his defense is overrated because he makes too many mental errors? The man’s got some JR Smith in him.

    This is example of what I am talking about.

    You may not even realize it, but you want him to fail. That’s the only reason you obsess over every single bad game or bad play. You want to come here and scream “see I told you he sucks”.

    It was the same thing with Randle for awhile when I used to suggest that Randle is good but we have to use him better and provide him more space. After every bad play and game there was a storm of negatively about how we have to trade him. It was like people were just waiting for him to drive into a double team and turn the ball over or take a dumb shot just so they could come here and scream “see I told you he sucks”. It didn’t change until he started playing so well the “trade him ” position had to begrudgingly stop.

    If you game me a list of the 5 best defensive players in the NBA and I obsessed over every bad game and play they made, I’d eventually conclude they weren’t good either because I was obsessed with looking for the bad to reinforce my position. But that’s not how you evaluate plus or minus. You evaluate it over many games, many matchups, and thousands of plays.

    The reality is Frank is 22 years old and either 1st or 2nd best defender on the team. He got beat on one play by an elite offensive talent. Lear from it, turn the page, next game.

  145. I mean Randle is probably going to win most improved player this year for a reason. It’s simply not the case that he was this good before and just needed to be used better. He got much better as a player and people went from saying he wasn’t good to acknowledging that now he is good. I’m not sure how that proves that people just want to be right.

  146. djphan: he’s been literally doing the 7 seconds or less defense with frank for the last two months! how is he NOT prepared to come in a close game? was he not prepared at all the last dozen or so times it happened or something? and it was just THIS time in a PLAYOFF game he was ill prepared? and we’re blaming his coldness or lack of preparedness on thibs?

    These are, to me at least, facts:

    1) no, Frank did not do a good job on that last possession, as Hubert pointed out.

    2) no, it’s not setting Frank up to succeed by taking a completely cold player and putting him in the highest leverage position possible. If that was a good strategy, then why bother with having bullpens for relief pitchers? Why bother with warmups period? Why not just change out of street clothes at half court and roll the ball out?

    It would be interesting to see how many players have had 30 seconds or less of game time in non-garbage-time close-game situations yet not see the court at all outside those 30 seconds. Someone have access to stat head? My guess is that it is a very small # of players. Because it’s a dumb strategy. The only thing I can think of is you take the tallest guy with the longest arms and legs to guard the inbounds pass. Not play 1-on-1 defense against one of the best guards on the planet. Because E is right – if the matchup you go to in the highest leverage situation is that particular one, it means that player probably should be on the court more.

    (re: Frank coming in cold though – it probably would be smart of Frank to get on the exercise bike with 5 minutes left in any close game)

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