The 4/5 matchup in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs between the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks was a clash between two playoff-starved franchises, who combined, hadn’t seen the postseason in 12 years.
Coming into the matchup, I actually picked the Knicks because I believed the experience of Derrick Rose would be beneficial to the young squad.
They also swept the season series 3-0 over the Hawks, with Julius Randle going for over 40 twice in the three matchups.
Fast forward to this series which began with a Trae Young game-winning floater at Madison Square Garden.
That bucket set the stage for this somewhat epic series because of the fan interaction, which took a turn for the worst when an idiotic Knicks fan spit on Trae Young towards the end of the Knicks’ lone win in Game 2.
The Knicks fan that spit on Trae Young should be thanking the lord that 50 Cent didn’t end his life right then and there pic.twitter.com/CoJepGHZns
— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) May 27, 2021
That win was their first in the postseason since 2013, but it was marred by this unfortunate and downright disgusting act.
You had Spike Lee dancing and waving Knicks towels in his customary floor seats at “The Mecca,” with rapper 50-Cent right behind him celebrating as well.
But the scene eventually switched to State Farm Arena in Atlanta, GA, and that’s where we’ve continued to see the difference between the two teams.
Trae Young is a star and Julius Randle (2020-21 Most Improved Player) is just a good player.
Randle has struggled so bad the Hawks fan were constantly chanting “OVERRATED” when he touched the ball.
“Ice Trae” as they call him has been magnificent while “Orange Julius” has been non-existent for most of the series.
Having fan interaction has been great theater and continues to show us getting back to some sense of normalcy, even if it’s our new normal.
The coaching can’t be understated either as Nate McMillan, who was named the Hawks interim head coach midseason (the interim tag will fall off at season’s end) has thoroughly outcoached Tom Thibodeau, a Coach of the Year candidate.
The Hawks are clearly the more talented team and it’s showing, but I won’t overlook the impact of McMillans’s adjustments after the Game 2 loss and the lack of adjustments by Thibs following the Knicks Game 3 loss.
Randle hasn’t attacked the rim with his shot struggling, and it’s really hurt the Knicks ‘ offense.
Young, on the other hand, has gotten anywhere he wants to on the floor and sets his teammates up with great looks.
The series shifts back to MSG for Game 5 where the Knicks will look to stave off elimination. Truthfully, I don’t know if they have enough to do so