The return to the NBA Playoffs for the New York Knicks didn’t go as expected as they dropped Game 1 in heartbreaking fashion.
Trae Young was able to hit the game-winning shot with less than a second to go that led to a victory and allowed allowed the Hawks to steal home court advantage from the Knicks.
The final play was controversial due to the fact that Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau brought in defensive stalwart Frank Ntilikina to defend Young. In most scenarios, that would be considered a good call, but Ntilikina hadn’t played in the game once up to that point and was brought in to defend the most important play of the game.
Obviously, it didn’t work out and the Knicks lost Game 1. Trae Young broke down how he hit the floater.
How Young Beat the Knicks
A strong argument can be made that Ntilikina is the Knicks’ best defender, but bringing in a player off the bench to defend a player who the whole team had trouble stopping all game is a questionable decision, especially when that defender is brought in cold.
Young is was well aware of Ntilikina’s defensive abilities and showed him praise after the game-winning shot while also explaining his thought process on how he was able to beat him.
“Obviously, Frank’s a good defender,” Young said according to SNY’s Ian Begley. “If you play with the ball too much, he can poke at it, things like that. A defender like him, you kind of just gotta go. That’s what I did. I just attacked his outside foot and was able to get around him and get to my floater.”
Young got around Ntilikina after several crossovers and dropped the game-winning floater with 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Immediately after the shot, he put his finger up to his mouth as a gesture to silence the crowd, and silence them he did.
Young finished the game with 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, capping off an impressive night for the Hawks guard.
The Knicks will look to bounce back in Game 2 in an effort to tie up the series before it shifts to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4.
What Changes Have to Be Made?
One thing the Knicks will need if they want to win the series is for Julius Randle to perform a lot better.
Randle finished with -5 in the +/- category and shot just 6 for 23 from the field. If the Knicks want to win games, that will have to change. Reggie Bullock going 0-5 from three doesn’t help matters much either.
The Knicks were able to hang with the Hawks throughout the game thanks to strong performances from Derrick Rose and Alec Burks off the bench.
The pair combined for 44 points and were a huge part of why they only lost by two. If Randle can have more consistent shooting in Game 2, it’s easy to imagine a world where the Knicks tie the series up.
Game 2 takes place at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET.