For the first time since 2013, the New York Knicks are in the NBA Playoffs and they’ll face a sharpshooting Atlanta Hawks team led by Trae Young. The last time the Atlanta Hawks made the playoffs was 2015 under former Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. The Knicks have shown they match up very well against the Hawks during the regular season. With even more preparation, both the Knicks coach and the Hawks coach will be more detailed in their potential path to victory.

Rebounding the Basketball For a Full 48-Minutes.

The Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela led the NBA with 4.7-offensive-rebounds per game during the regular season. The Knicks are without Mitchell Robinson, therefore, team rebounding will be crucial. Knicks players must know where Clint Capela is on the court at all times. The Hawks finished fifth in the entire league in rebounds, averaging 45.6-rebounds per game. Knicks finished ninth in that category, averaging 45.1-rebounds per game.

Make Life Extremely Difficult for Trae Young.

Trae Young is the engine for the Atlanta Hawks. Taking away his airspace is definitely a tough assignment for anybody. Young’s game is based on tricking the referee, therefore, discipline on defense will go a very long way this series. Maximum concentration will be harped on by the Knicks coaching staff. Tom Thibodeau will constantly remind Knicks players to remain focused and it may help eliminate potential mental lapses on defense against a savvy offensive sharpshooter like Trae Young.

Eliminate Airspace From all Hawks Shooters, Including Trae Young.

Once again this is easier said than done, however, the Knicks are leading the league in opposing three point shooting percentages for a reason. The Knicks have the personnel and the coach to lock down the perimeter. Maybe it’s the reason the Knicks finished the season series against the Hawks 3-0. Making the Hawks hurry and worry on the perimeter is what the Knicks been doing all season, therefore, nothing should change in that aspect. Tom Thibodeau however strongly feels whatever happened in the regular season stays in the regular season. Knicks will still have their hands full even though they’ve beaten the Hawks many times before.

Attack Trae Young Offensively.

Any Knick point guard in the game must look to attack Trae Young. Being aggressive and making Trae Young play defense is crucial. Elfrid Payton, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley must all be in attack mode when the situation presents itself. Tom Thibodeau will always put his guards in favorable situations to take advantage of Trae Young’s subpar defense.

Julius Randle & RJ Barrett Must Stay Aggressive on the Offensive End.

The Atlanta Hawks haven’t had any real answers for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Both players have had their way against Atlanta and nothing should change during this first round playoff series. Randle and Barrett have been able to pick the Hawks apart during the regular season. John Collins isn’t a great defender and doesn’t possess the strength to hold his own on “Randle’s Island”. Kevin Huerter hasn’t shown the ability to consistently stop RJ Barrett either. Tom Thibodeau knows all of this and will emphasize all the details, which could be devastating for the Hawks, unless, Hawks Head Coach Nate McMillan has something up his sleeve to prove all his doubters wrong.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Overall the Knicks versus the Hawks in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs will be interesting because whoever advances to the second round will be a first for a very long time. Hawks coach Nate McMillan will look to redeem himself after being swept three times in the first round during his last four postseason appearances. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has been through many playoff battles, he also has two extensions of himself on the basketball court in Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson. That kind of familiarity is priceless in a playoff atmosphere against a team with limited playoff experience in the Hawks.

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