The New York Knicks took Game Two of the series with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. The Hawks blew a commanding 13 point lead they held at halftime, slowly turning over control to New York. The series is now tied 1-1.
Hawks’ point guard, Trae Young, has been sensational in his career playoff debut, averaging 31 points, 8.5 assists, while shooting a stellar 51% from the field. Clint Capela has also been a catalyst for the Hawks, grabbing 12.5 rebounds per game. Where Atlanta fell short last night was getting production from their bench.
The Atlanta Basketball Club slowly fell apart in the second half due to poor rotations and shot selection from both starters and bench players alike. Danilo Gallinari has been a complete liability for the Hawks this series and should be bumped from the rotation and replaced with Solomon Hill as soon as possible. De’Andre Hunter hit several clutch threes at the beginning of the contest, but his poor shot selection down the stretch resulted in the Hawks forfeiting crucial possessions.
On the Knicks side, Derrick Rose has been the x-factor, averaging 21.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, while shooting 45% from the field. It is clear that Rose is the best point guard for the Knickerbockers; however, it is very unclear why he is on the bench. Elfrid Payton is currently the Knicks starting playmaker, while only playing 6.5 minutes a game. Not sure what coach Thibideau’s strategy is here, but I guess it works.
The Knicks have been playing a physical brand of basketball all year, and Game Two was no exception. Illegal screens and tripping seemed to go unnoticed by refs at the garden. It was a physical, yet resounding win for New York last night.
After hitting a game-winner to secure a win for Atlanta on the road in Game One, the City of New York (yes, the mayor of New York City) declared him public enemy #1. Trash talking from Knicks players and fans has been at an all-time high after Young silenced the crowd in Game One with his game-winning floater. Trae Young poked the bear with an innocent taunt after taking game 1, and Knickerbockers’ fans declared war.
In Game Two, Trae Young was heckled mercilessly. Chants of “Trae Young’s Balding” and “F*ck Trae Young” rained down from the stands. Boo’d every time he got the ball, an unfazed Trae Young still managed an amazing individual performance, but it wasn’t enough to secure the win.
Both fanbases have been getting into it on Twitter this morning after footage of a fan spitting on Young surfaced on Twitter. This series has been packed with drama, intensity, and tension amongst fans and players. We are only two games in, and it appears a new rivalry could be brewing in the Eastern Conference.
Games Three and Four will be played on Friday and Sunday at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA. It will be interesting to see what storylines emerge, and how Atlantans will greet their New York visitors.