Sunday afternoon marked an especially important day for fans of the New York Knicks. For the first time since the Carmelo Anthony era, the Knicks would be competing in the NBA playoffs.
Although they came into the first round as the number four seed in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks knew that they had no easy task in their opening-round series as they drew All-Star Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks as their opponent. The Knicks had not been to the playoffs since 2013. With the attendance capacity at Madison Square Garden being increased just in time for the playoffs, Knicks fans nearly blew the roof off the building.
Spike Lee Goes Crazy After RJ Barrett Poster
The Knicks being in the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons is something special for many people, but it is probably the most special for Knicks’ fan-favorite RJ Barrett. Barrett, a lottery pick was drafted 2nd overall by the Knicks in the 2019 NBA Draft and in a way has been a catalyst in the Knicks making a resurgence back to glory.
During Game 1 of the Knicks and Hawks game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Barrett put Hawks, big man, Bojan Bogdanovic on a poster with a filthy slam in the second half of the contest. The slam sent Knicks’ superfan and famed film director Spike Lee into a frenzy along with the rest of the Knicks fanbase.
The Knicks bench & Spike Lee’s reaction to RJ Barrett’s poster dunk on Bogdanovic! pic.twitter.com/TvMeKCKIZO
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 24, 2021
Trae Young Joins Derrick Rose in the NBA History Books
The Knicks lost a highly competitive Game 1 to the Hawks 105-107 on Sunday. It was a coming-out party for Knicks’ guard Alec Burks who finished with 27 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. Despite an impressive performance from Burks, the Knicks could just not overcome the offensive genius of Trae Young who finished with a game-high 32 points including the go-ahead bucket that he hit in the waning moments of the 4th quarter. Young also had 10 assists and 7 rebounds in the contest making him the first player to log 30 points and 10 assists in their playoff debut since Derrick Rose did it while he was with the Chicago Bulls in 2009.
Trae Young playoff debut:
He is the first player with 30p/10a in his playoff debut since Derrick Rose. pic.twitter.com/8m4aF3cdrg
— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 24, 2021
Julius Randle Has Disappointing Playoff Debut
Sunday was also Knicks’ All-Star Julius Randle’s playoff debut. With the All-NBA season that Knicks fans have gotten accustomed to seeing from Randle, his debut was rather disappointing. Randle finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists in the contest. After shooting a career-high from the field during the regular season, Randle shot just 6-22 from the field during his playoff debut. Randle acknowledges that he has to be better in order for the Knicks to have a shot at winning the series and he vows to do so.
“Listen, I’m not making no excuses,” Randle said after the loss per Ian Begley. “I’ve got to be better and I will be better. I’ll just leave it that.”
Julius Randle after NYK’s Game 1 loss to ATL: “Listen, I’m not making no excuses. I’ve got to be better and I will be better. I’ll just leave it that.” Randle had 15 points on 6-of-24 shooting, 12 rebounds and four assists in the 107-105 loss.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) May 24, 2021
Hawks Welcoming the Challenge of Facing the Knicks
The Knicks might have swept the Hawks 3-0 in the regular season, by that did not affect Atlanta’s confidence at all heading into this playoff series. According to Hawks’ big man Kevin Huerter the team is up for the challenge of knocking off the NBA’s new darlings in a playoff series.
“We don’t really look at those three games as being much of a factor going into the series,” Huerter said per Marc Berman of the New York Post. “We feel really good about ourselves. They beat us three times this year, but all three games we could have won. We like the matchup and are ready for the challenge.’’
As disappointing as an outing as Sunday may have been for the Knicks, Tom Thibodeau and his squad will have to exercise a short memory and gear up for a pivotal Game 2 on Wednesday as they face the prospect of going down 0-2 to the Hawks.
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