2021 NBA Playoffs Game Thread: Knicks vs. Hawks, Game 5 – All I Need is a Miracle

The Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks at the Garden tonight to avoid being eliminated in five games by the Hawks.

Or, in other words…

In all seriousness, it’s not like coming back from a 3-1 deficit when you’re not totally overwhelmed by the other team is impossible or anything like that. The Knicks could very well still win this series. It isn’t like the Nets/Celtics series where even had the Celtics pulled out Game 5, there was no way they were going to win two more games in that series. Here, the Knicks literally beat the Hawks all three times they played in the regular season, so why would it be impossible for them to win three in a row now? The answer is that it is not impossible. It’s very much a possibility. Not a strong possibility, but a possibility, especially back home at the Garden.

Clint Capela talked a lot of shit the other day about the Knicks being physical but not winning, so it would be nice for the Knicks to be physical tonight and win the game.

Rose and Taj remain in the starting lineup. The Knicks are really going to need Rose to play well throughout the game. As the joke goes, Thibs has discovered that when you start Derrick Rose, you sadly lose the ability to then sub in Derrick Rose off of the bench, as well, but he will try his best to do both tonight.

Julius Randle has had a lot of shit thrown at him the last few days, so it would be sure swell to see him deliver one of those monster games we know he is capable of (again, he has scored more than 40 points in a game four times in his career, half of them were against the Hawks this season).

Let’s go, bring this series back to Atlanta, Knicks!

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

From Marc Berman:

The Knicks’ fairytale season is nearly over.

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

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

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

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

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

Randle begs to differ with the odds.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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!