3 reasons the Knicks can overcome the Hawks in first round of playoffs

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
Jan 13, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau reacts as he coaches against the Brooklyn Nets during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks are heading into a competitive playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks over the weekend, and they must be prepared to take on several quality players, including Trae Young, John Collins, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Atlanta has a strong team, but the Knicks are more than capable of extracting wins utilizing their aggressive defense and solid shooting. However, there are several key factors that will play a part in their success or failure — consistency across the board is necessary.

Three reasons the Knicks can overcome the Hawks:

1.) Tom Thibodeau will keep his team in check

Accountability and discipline have been the mantra for the Knicks this season, enforced by Tom Thibodeau.

“That’s what we need,” Randle said. “We need to be coached. We need to be held accountable. So if we’re not doing our job, he’s going to tell us about it. That’s how should it be. We should hold each other accountable as well. The standard that we set every day, and we have to live up to that. We have to do the right things every day.”

Thibodeau understands that winning basketball games in the NBA requires brutal honesty and the ability to make decisions without any emotional attachment. He will pull players and rotate units to fit the flow of the game, disregarding how any individual player might feel about being taken out. If New York plays their cards right, they can win against Atlanta, but they must remain composed.

2.) Julius Randle will rise to the occasion

The major catalyst behind the Knicks succeeding during the regular season was the performance of All-Star Julius Randle, who enjoyed one of the better seasons in the team’s history. The 26-year-old shot .456 from the field and .411 from three-point, which was a career-high. He averaged 24.1 points, 6.0 assists, and 10.2 rebounds, all personal bests across his career.

However, the postseason is a different beast, and if Randle can continue his dominance during games that truly matter, the Knicks will be in great shape. His teammates often rally around him when he’s performing well, but when he struggling, it puts a lot of pressure on his teammates to pick up the slack.

3.) Derrick Rose’s experience in the playoffs

Derrick Rose seems like he’s been around forever, and considering he’s participated in 46 playoff games, we can make the assumption he has enough experience in the category. While his best performances came back in 2011, when he scored a career-high 44 points in a playoff game, that knowledge simply doesn’t go away overnight.

Roses had himself a fantastic year in New York, averaging 14.9 points, 4.2 assists, and shot .487 from the field. His knowledge and expertise in the playoff category should help some of the younger players who haven’t been there before, and his value to coach Thibodeau remains unparalleled.