The New York Knicks were going to depend on their defense to get them past the first round of the playoffs. After all, that’s how they were able to earn themselves a home court advantage in their Eastern Conference series.
But you know, the Atlanta Hawks were pretty hot down the stretch themselves, and they’ve got talent, depth and the ability to bury threes. Some of that was on display in Game 1, as the Hawks were able to pull off a win as a short dog at Madison Square Garden.
Now these clubs get set for Game 2, which will be held on Wednesday at the Garden. And if you are a customer at BetOnline, you can take advantage of any number of props that are available and can win you some money.
Game 2 – NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
ATLANTA HAWKS at NEW YORK KNICKS, 7:35 PM ET (Wednesday)
NBA Playoff Odds: Knicks -2 / Total 214
The Knicks were only favored by a point and a half in the opener, and the game was indeed tight. The Hawks outscored New York 36-32 in a wild fourth quarter.
Neither team did particularly well shooting from long range – the Hawks were 12 of 35 (34.3%) and the Knicks were 10 of 30 (33.3%). That first figure was not a surprise. The second one was.
What was also surprising was the failure of Julius Randle to make shots. Randle, who was always a capable scorer, emerged as a genuine MVP candidate this season, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and six assists. But he made just six of 23 shots.
And the Knicks had a lot of difficulty preventing some of Atlanta’s players from doing what they do best. Trae Young, one of the league’s most explosive guards, scored 33 points. Clint Capela, the league’s leading rebounder, pulled down 13 caroms. Lou Williams, who has resumed his role as a sixth man extraordinaire, had 13 points in just twelve minutes. Shooter Bogdan Bogdanovic had four triples and 18 points.
So the question becomes whether the Knicks can nullify what some of these Hawks can do. New York is not known as a dynamic offensive team, but they did in fact shoot 39.2% from three-point range. And they had three people in the starting lineup who were better than 40%.
What they have the ability to do is attack Atlanta’s weak defensive link, which is Young, who coach Nate McMillan can’t necessarily take out of the game. Outside shooting is something they apparently have to do, because they haven’t been a dominant team inside (28th out of 30 teams in points in the paint). And seriously, already minus Mitchell Robinson, how far are they going to get with shot-blocker Capela patrolling the lane for the Hawks?
And then there’s De’Andre Hunter heading the committee to hound Randle. So yes, there are matchup difficulties for the Knicks.
But in the battle of adjustments, which is what playoff basketball is all about, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau might be able to find a way to win. He has a number of point guards who can take turns harassing Young. And Randle has simply played too well to be kept down. Remember that the Knicks swept all three games against the Hawks this season, and Randle averaged 38 points and 12 rebounds in those games.
So we’re looking for a turnaround, and for the home team to even things up in the Big Apple. KNICKS
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