‘That’s out the window’: Knicks wiping regular-season success vs. Hawks away ahead of playoffs

Trae Young Knicks
The Knicks will try to carry over their regular-season success against the Hawks into the playoffs.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The old cliche of the playoffs being a completely different entity from the regular season has already been hammered into the minds of the New York Knicks as they prepare for their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. 

During the 2021 season, the Knicks swept the three-game slate from the Hawks, though one win was by just five points and another needed overtime for deciding. 

Still, one of the overarching questions that were asked of some of the Knicks was whether or not their regular-season results against Atlanta instilled any confidence heading into the playoffs.

Those were met with a resounding no. 

“That means nothing going into the playoffs,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The regular season is the regular season. When you play those games, there are a lot of things that go into it. There could be players out, travel involved. Now we’re at a zero base. We know how well they’re playing. They’ve gotten a lot better as the season has gone on so we have to be ready and play a 48-minute game.”

The Hawks were nipping at the heels of the Knicks during their strong run down the stretch, going 17-7 in their last 24 games. However, it wasn’t enough to overtake the Knicks for the No. 4 seed in the East, meaning New York gets home-court advantage throughout the first round. 

“It doesn’t matter. Playoff basketball is different,” young Knick swingman RJ Barrett said. “It’s going to be different, it’s going to be hard-fought. They’re going to give us our best and we have to be ready.”

Veteran point guard Derrick Rose, who is one of the most experienced postseason players that the Knicks boast, will be looked upon by Thibodeau from a player perspective to impart that kind of wisdom to a relatively inexperienced roster.

“Everybody knows that’s out the window,” Rose said. “That’s the regular season. Coming into [Game 1], the urgency is going to be very high… we just have to go all out. We know how big these two games are in our house. We have to take care of business in those two games.”

One of Rose’s main responsibilities will be to stop limit Hawks star guard Trae Young, one of the most explosive young scorers in the game. The 22-year-old averaged 25.3 points, which ranked 14th in the NBA, and 9.4 assists per game, which ranked second this season. An aggressive slasher to the hoop, Young has a knack for drawing fouls — which some might suggest tests the integrity of the game — as he led the NBA with 484 free throws.

“He’s a great young talent,” veteran Knicks point guard Derrick Rose, who will be seeing a lot of Young in the first round, said. “You see that with their team with how they’ve been playing. You just have to make sure everybody’s on the same page. He’s a lot to deal with when he’s playing free so we have to make sure we have bodies around him and to make it hard on not just him, but his entire team.”






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