Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks take on the New York Knicks in Game 1 on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire)
- The Knicks face the Hawks in Game 1 of their first-round series on Sunday, May 23rd at MSG
- New York won all three contests against Atlanta during the regular season
- Get the odds, preview, and pick for this contest below
The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks were two of the most surprising teams in the NBA this season and sure enough, they’ll face off in the first round, with Game 1 set for Sunday. Tip-off is 7 PM EST at Madison Square Garden.
This is the first time the Knicks have made the playoffs since 2013, while the Hawks last appeared on the big stage four years ago. It should be one of the biggest indoor events in the state of New York since the pandemic started, with approximately 15,000 fans expected to be at the Garden. Needless to say, the energy will be electric.
The Knicks dominated the season series against Atlanta, winning all three games. All-Star forward Julius Randle also dropped 40+ points in two of their meetings.
Hawks vs Knicks Game 1 Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total Points at Fanduel|
|Atlanta Hawks||-1 (-106)||-112||Ov 214.5 (-110)|
|New York Knicks||+1 (-114)||-104||Un 214.5 (-110)|
Odds as of May 22nd.
Atlanta Thriving Under Nate McMillan
It’s been an absolutely thrilling campaign for the Hawks, but it didn’t start off that way. Before they fired Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta was 14-20 and in 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Since the team hired Nate McMillan, Trae Young and co. compiled a 27-11 record, including several win streaks after the All-Star break.
“A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here. We have a lot to prove.”
Game 1 is tomorrow. Comment 🏀 if you BELIEVE! #BelieveAtlanta pic.twitter.com/3BVA6kZbxQ
— x – Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) May 22, 2021
The veteran coach has made all the difference while bringing a positive mindset to the Hawks. They ended up finishing as the No. 5 seed in the East at 41-31 and even concluded the regular season on a four-game unbeaten run.
One of the biggest X-factors in this series for Atlanta will be Young. He’s the focal point of their offense who can score and facilitate at a high level. The former Oklahoma standout led the Hawks with 25.3 points and 9.4 assists per night in year 3. Overall, ATL has a very well-rounded offense. There’s a total of eight players throughout the roster that are averaging double-digits in points in 2020/21, giving them numerous weapons to complement Trae.
Expect Clint Capela to battle it out on the glass for the Hawks, who ranked fifth in the league in rebounds per game. The 27-year-old led the Association with 14.3 boards a night. He’s a true Swiss Army knife around the rim who will certainly play a key part against the Knicks.
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The Knicks of The Past?
What a season for the New York Knicks. It honestly looks as the dark days could be behind this franchise. These fans have been itching for a playoff-caliber team like the Knicks of the 90s. They finally have it.
Playoff basketball is back where it belongs.
WE HERE. pic.twitter.com/4W7HVAuo2b
— x – NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) May 19, 2021
Tom Thibodeau has come in and instilled his defensive brilliance in New York, who ranks third in the NBA in that category. But, NY wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the breakout year from Randle.
The former Laker absolutely went off in 2020/21, averaging career-highs across the board of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and six assists. He’s gone from a respectable player to a budding superstar who can literally do it all on both ends of the court. Randle also missed just one game all season while making his very first All-Star team.
He’s been a big reason the Knicks are a No. 4 seed heading into the playoffs, but the supporting cast has also done their part. RJ Barrett has taken significant strides in his sophomore season, while Derrick Rose has been a nice addition due to the fact that he’s familiar with how Thibodeau runs his system. Just like the Hawks, the Knicks have scorers around Randle.
They shoot the three-ball extremely well, draining 39.2% of their attempts, which ranks them second in the Association. With guys like Randle and Nerlens Noel crashing the boards, New York is also a force to be reckoned with inside. This should be a very physical series thanks to the presence of numerous players who can grab rebounds on both sides.
The Knicks and Hawks are playing well coming into Game 1. NY won three straight to end the campaign and thrive on home court, going 25-11. I do expect this to be a competitive first-round matchup, even though the Knicks swept the season series. But, with lots of fans back at MSG, New York will definitely have momentum in the opener. Take them on the Moneyline.
Pick: New York Knicks -104
Quinn Allen is a sports journalist, with a background and education in broadcast journalism (BCIT ’17). He writes about European Football, Basketball, and Baseball for numerous sites across the globe.