The Knicks had been eradicated from the playoffs on Wednesday in a 103-89 Game 5 loss to the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden, a deflating finish to a promising season.
It was a feisty, defensive battle, with each groups getting off to a gradual begin. But the Hawks, as soon as once more, methodically took management in the second half, led by their star guard Trae Young. He completed with 36 factors.
Julius Randle, the Knicks star, struggled once more. He scored 23 factors and grabbed 13 rebounds, however was solely eight for 21 from the area and had eight turnovers.
The Knicks’ Taj Gibson and Atlanta’s John Collins grappling for the ball.Credit…Wendell Cruz/USA Today Sports, through Reuters
This season marked an surprising return to relevance for the Knicks, who surpassed even a few of the most optimistic preseason expectations by acquiring the No. Four seed in the Eastern Conference and home-court benefit in the first spherical of the playoffs. It was the workforce’s first journey to the postseason since the 2012-13 season, bringing recent optimism for a beleaguered New York City fan base.
Randle emerged as a professional franchise participant, making his first All-Star Game and successful the N.B.A.’s Most Improved Player award. RJ Barrett, in his second season, made vital strides as a shooter and playmaker. The rookies Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin offered sparks off the bench.
There was a lot hope for the playoffs after the Knicks went 16-Four over the closing 20 video games of the common season. The fifth-seeded Hawks had been seen as a beatable opponent, particularly as a result of the Knicks defeated them in all three of their regular-season matchups.
Instead, even with home-court benefit, the Knicks collapsed in the playoffs, largely due to the poor play of the starters. With a number of gamers, together with Randle and Barrett, making their playoff debuts, the workforce appeared rattled at factors by the highlight. The Knicks had been additionally with out one in every of their key weapons: the springy beginning middle Mitchell Robinson, an efficient rebounder and rim protector, who had foot surgical procedure in late March.
In the collection opener, the Knicks misplaced at the final second on a Young floater, a shot Atlanta’s high participant used to punish the Knicks all collection. The Knicks gained Game 2, bolstered by a deafening residence crowd and a stirring second-half comeback. But they fell aside on the highway in Games three and Four, as Young scored and created alternatives for his teammates.
Julius Randle shot 28 for 94 in the collection, a 29.eight p.c clip.Credit…Pool photograph by Wendell Cruz
Randle shot 20 for 73 by way of the first 4 video games — a dismal 27.Four p.c. He had virtually as many turnovers (15) as he did assists (17). His efficiency was much more confounding contemplating Randle’s thorough domination of the Hawks throughout the common season: He averaged 37.three factors in three matchups — his most in opposition to any workforce. But the Hawks flummoxed Randle all through the collection, sending double and triple groups to him on virtually each contact.
Barrett was principally ineffective as nicely. Through Game Four, he was taking pictures simply 39.6 p.c from the area and 27.three p.c from deep. In Game 2, the Knicks’ solely win of the collection, he was benched in the fourth quarter. Several of his misses in the collection got here on passes from Randle, which made it simpler for the Hawks to proceed to stress Randle.
With Randle and Barrett struggling, the Knicks relied on a surprisingly productive bench. Derrick Rose, who solely began three of the 35 video games he performed for the Knicks throughout the common season after coming over from Detroit, was their greatest offensive participant in the first 4 video games. He averaged 22.eight factors and 5 assists per recreation on 50.7 p.c taking pictures. Knicks Coach Tom Thibodeau moved Rose and the veteran middle Taj Gibson into the beginning lineup for Game three.