The start of the NBA playoffs hasn’t gone as planned for New York Knicks star Julius Randle. Through three games, he’s still struggling to put together a complete performance and his team finds itself in a 1-2 hole heading into Game 4.
Coming into the series, the Knicks had home-court advantage, but after dropping Game 1, the team has been fighting in an uphill battle.
For the fans hoping the poor performance of Randle would just be limited to Game 1, it’s looking like that has a chance to continue throughout the series. Randle is shooting just 24.1% from the field in the series, scoring 14.7 points. During the season, he averaged 24.1 points on 45.6% shooting.
After the Hawks’ victory in Game 3, Hawks forward John Collins was asked about how the team is shutting down Randle.
Collins Hopes Randle is Frustrated
A reporter asked Collins what he and the team were doing against Julius to shut him down throughout the series.
“It’s a secret,” Collins said. “I can’t tell you completely, but what I can tell you is we turned up the intensity, the physicality. My mentality and a couple other guys’ mentality has definitely changed. Game plan wise it is what it is.”
Whatever the difference is, it’s clear that Randle is being affected because while he’s still be putting up double-doubles consistently, his shooting marks are nowhere near what they were in the regular season.
When asked if he could sense if Randle was getting frustrated, Collins laughed the question off.
“I really don’t care, I hope so.”
What Needs to Change?
Going into a pivotal Game 4 where either the Knicks can tie up the series or they can find themselves in 1-3 hole, it’s clear that something has to give.
The easy solution would be for Randle to piece together a more consistent performance. Being the Knicks’ best player means that a lot is expected out of him.
While players like Rose, Barrett and even Burks have been able to shoulder a lot of the load, the Knicks need their star player to be better if they want any shot at winning this series.
So far, they’ve remaining competitive in spite of his performance, but it’ll be tough to picture them moving on if he keeps this level of play up.
After seeing Collins’ post-game comments, Randle could decide to ramp his play up and not him in his head. Everyone always says the playoffs are different than the regular season, and Randle and this young Knicks are finding that out the hard way.
It’s not all bad because they can still tie the series up heading back to New York. They will have a chance to do just that when Game 4 begins on Sunday.
The team has announced that they’ll be selling tickets to vaccinated fans only in the second round if they advance, so there is a nice incentive waiting for them if the Knicks are able to clear the hurdle that is the Atlanta Hawks.