The New York Knicks’ first playoff series since 2013 has not gone well so far.
Trailing 3-1, the Knicks find themselves facing elimination in Game 5 of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night. The teams split the first two games of the series at Madison Square Garden before the Hawks won convincingly in both games in Atlanta.
The Knicks lost Games 3 and 4 by a combined 28 points, but are listed as 1.5-point favorites for Game 5 at BetMGM. The series is back in New York City, so the Knicks won’t go down without a fight, right?
I’m not so sure.
Other than a dominant second half in Game 2, the Knicks have been largely overmatched by the Hawks throughout this series. The Hawks have put the clamps on Knicks star Julius Randle, holding him to 16.8 points per game on just 27.4% shooting from the field and 8-of-24 (33.3%) from long distance. During the regular season, Randle put up 24.1 points per night while shooting 45.6% from the field and 41.1% from deep.
With Randle struggling to establish any sort of rhythm, the Knicks have had to heavily rely on players like Derrick Rose, R.J. Barrett and Alec Burks to generate some semblance of an offense. It hasn’t gone very well.
Meanwhile, the Hawks have a much more balanced collection of weapons on offense with Trae Young leading the way. Even on nights when Young isn’t shooting well, he has a reliable collection of teammates who can score in a variety of ways. John Collins can operate both inside and outside. Bogdan Bogdanovic is a stellar 3-point shooter with the ability to create his own shot. De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela are extremely reliable two-way players and guys like Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter can provide quick scoring off the bench.
The Knicks have had a surprisingly strong season, but the first four games of this series have shown that they just do not match up well with the Hawks.
Sure the Knicks have been really good for bettors at Madison Square Garden this season, but I’m trusting what I’ve seen with my eyes so far in this series and picking the Hawks on the moneyline at +100 without hesitation here. I’d be surprised if it’s another double-digit win for Atlanta, but I just don’t think the Knicks can generate enough offense to close this one out in the end.
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