Game 1 between the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks did not disappoint. The home crowd at Times Square, er, Madison Square Garden was loud and obnoxious and gave Trae Young the New York City treatment. It was Young that had the last laugh, however, as the Hawks topped the Knicks 107-105 to take away home court advantage with a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2 is on Wednesday night after Game 1 was on Sunday, so a lot of time has taken place between games. A lot of time for talking heads and pundits to discuss to game and also for the players to rest up and relax for a big Game 2 push. It should be a lot of fun and another competitive game.
The Knicks are favored by a bucket at Jazz Sports with a total of 212.5 on the game. The closing line for Game 1 was Hawks -2.5 and 203.5 on the total, so we’ve clearly seen an adjustment for this one.
Everybody seems to have an opinion about Trae Young. The Knicks fans let theirs be known over the course of the game and even Mayor Bill de Blasio called out Young for “hunting for fouls”. Well, okay then.
It would be an important part of the game, it would seem, as Young went 9-for-9 at the free throw line en route to a 32-point effort in his first career playoff game. He was also 4-of-9 from deep and had 10 assists to lead the ballclub. While Young’s play was definitely strong, especially with the game-winning floater as time was expiring, it was Bogdan Bogdanovic that had 18 points and a +/- of +17 when he was on the floor. He was 7-of-15 and provided a big secondary scoring threat.
The Hawks needed it, too. Young was 11-of-23 from the field and 4-of-9 from three, but the rest of the team was just 31-of-67 from the floor and 8-of-25 from three. Only two other Hawks got the free throw line in Game 1. While Atlanta did come away with the win, a lot of things need to improve in order to come away with the Game 2 triumph.
Danilo Gallinari could try not going 3-of-11 and 1-of-7 from three. He also had four fouls in just 24 minutes. It was a really ugly effort from him. The Hawks only had six turnovers, so that was good, but also got nearly doubled up on the offensive glass. Atlanta had seven ORebs to 13 for the Knicks. Clint Capela had four of them, but still only managed nine points. He’ll need to improve as well.
New York Knicks
Speaking of improvement, the Knicks only got 41 points from their starting five in Game 1. Julius Randle led the way with 15, but it was all on volume, as he wound up just 6-of-23 from the field. He pulled down 12 rebounds, but only two on the offensive glass. It was not the type of game you’d expect to see from New York’s leading scorer, yet the Knicks were right there at the end.
It was Alec Burks that had a huge day off the bench with 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Even Derrick Rose chipped in with 17 points, though he also had five of New York’s 11 turnovers. It was a weird game in a lot of respects for the Knicks, as the starters seemed ill-prepared to play and it fell on the veteran bench guys to pick up the slack.
New York was 10-of-30 from three and 42-of-94 overall from the floor. Randle had 17 misses himself, so he didn’t do the team any favors, but the Knicks, who haven’t had a ton of scoring threats this season, still fell within two points at the end and it was a back-and-forth game throughout. Is that a confidence builder or is that a situation where Randle gets into his own head a bit?
Both teams had 50 points in the paint and that was without much of a contribution from Randle, so the Knicks were very effective getting the ball inside. That seems like a pretty good area to highlight heading into Game 2.
Hawks vs. Knicks Free Pick
The Knicks are -2 here, despite closing an underdog based on late money in Game 1. The Hawks won, but got fortunate with Randle’s likely worst game of the series. How much better can Trae Young be? For that matter, though, how much better can Alec Burks or Derrick Rose be?
It’s a tough game and a tough handicap. With what’s at stake here and how tough it was to get buckets in Game 1, the under looks like the right play with two rested teams ready to give a max effort on the defensive end of the floor.
Pick: Under 203.5