Why the Knicks Will Make a Deeper Playoff Run Than Anyone Ever Expected


Whereas the concept of James Dolan experiencing even a shred of satisfaction is totally unstomachable for many people, the Knicks making the playoffs for the primary time since 2013 is clearly nice for the NBA and anybody who enjoys a spectacle.

However one of the best a part of New York’s revival is that they really have an opportunity to make a run and exceed even the boldest expectations anybody had for them firstly of the season.

The Knicks face the Atlanta Hawks within the first spherical, a group they swept 3-0 within the common season and now maintain dwelling courtroom towards. In fact, the Hawks aren’t to be taken flippantly.

Trae Younger surrounded by snipers is sufficient to hold coaches up at night time, they usually have some succesful defenders on the opposite aspect of the ball. But when there’s an Japanese Convention group that’s effectively outfitted and effectively ready to place the clamps on a group like Atlanta, it’s New York.

Tom Thibodeau has expertly moulded the Knicks into the fourth-best defensive group within the league, a staggering accomplishment contemplating they have been ranked 29th final season and nonetheless have most of the identical guys taking part in vital minutes.

Thibs has his squad smothering the perimeter, relentlessly attacking pick-and-rolls, and harassing groups into panicked cross-court passes whereas trusting their bigs and weak-side defenders will get well in time.

The Hawks are a harmful group on the perimeter and are 0.5 p.c away from being the seventh-best three-point taking pictures group within the league. However guess who leads the league in three-point defence?  Yep… the Knicks are holding their opponents to a league-best 33.7 p.c from past the arc (whereas taking pictures a scorching 39.2 p.c themselves no much less, which is tied for second within the league).

No matter which defenders Thibs decides to throw at Trae Younger, they’ve a bunch of men who’ve proved all season that they’re as much as the duty, whereas Nerlens Noel has carried out an particularly good job of backing them up on the rim.

On offence, Julius Randle would be the one to look at. He has eaten the Hawks alive this season. Simply take a look at his common season numbers towards Atlanta:

  • 28 PTS, 17 REB, 9 AST, 58% FG
  • 44 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST, 64% FG
  • 40 PTS, 11 REB, 6 AST, 52% FG

To high it off, Randle and mates could have one of the best dwelling courtroom benefit of anybody within the playoffs. 15,000 followers will probably be allowed into what guarantees to be a deafening Madison Sq. Backyard, with New York’s rabid fan base starved of playoff motion and eventually having a group they’ll actually get behind.

The Knicks are 25-11 at dwelling this yr, have gained 9 of their final 10 at MSG and the diploma of issue in beating them has risen in step with their crowd sizes.

Knocking off Atlanta would result in New York dealing with Philadelphia within the second spherical. Successful that collection would in fact be an uphill battle, however don’t be shocked if Thibs’ males make issues fascinating.

The 76ers are removed from good. They flip the ball over greater than any present playoff group bar one and don’t have fairly sufficient dependable three-point taking pictures to supply Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid with the perfect quantity of area.

What’s extra, the very fact stays that Embiid and Simmons nonetheless aren’t one of the best match. Some Philly followers might imagine this can be a drained argument, nevertheless it’s been round so lengthy for a motive and has but to be proved mistaken by any type of significant postseason success.

Embiid and Simmons are two nice gamers who excel within the common season, however when the sport slows down within the playoffs, we’re but to see it work.

Elsewhere, Philly might also lose the teaching battle. Doc Rivers is an completed coach, but additionally has loads of query marks subsequent to his title.

He has blown extra fourth quarter leads than another NBA coach, has the worst report in close-out video games of any coach within the league at the moment, and has discovered himself on the helm of just about 25 p.c of NBA groups to ever blow a 3-1 lead.

In the meantime, the painfully meticulous Tom Thibodeau has carried out a wonderful job all season, particularly on the defensive finish. He additionally used to teach underneath Doc Rivers in Boston and is aware of his tendencies inside out.

One thing else to control is Philly needing to determine the best way to hold the ship afloat when Joel Embiid is off the ground. They’re at the moment 11.9 factors per 100 possessions worse when Embiid sits.

Look, Philly has the controversial league MVP and clearly ought to win this collection. Simply don’t count on it to be straightforward for the Sixers in the event that they cross paths with an impeccably well-drilled Knicks group with an outrageous dwelling courtroom benefit, a probable teaching benefit, and completely nothing to lose.


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