Knicks look to enter All-Star break on a high note as they take on Hawks

Jalen Brunson, New York Knicks
Jan 9, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket in front of Milwaukee Bucks guard Jevon Carter (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks play their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday, which is a road game against the Atlanta Hawks.

This is the third and final matchup between the two teams this season, with both the series currently sitting at 1-1.

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The Knicks will look to keep the momentum on their side by stopping Atlanta’s stars:

New York enters this game having won four of their last five games and are 5-2 in the month of February. On the other hand, Atlanta has lost three of their last five and are currently 2.5 games below the Knicks for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Hawks finally welcomed Saddiq Bey to the team this week after the four-team trade involving him was held up while the Warriors assessed Gary Payton II’s health.

Bey tended to give the Knicks fits while on the Pistons, and he averages 16 points per game in his career against New York, so the Knicks will definitely need to halt him from lighting it up from downtown.

Along with Bey, the Knicks will still have to deal with the Hawks’ elite backcourt pair of Dejounte Murray and Trae Young.

In the month of February, Murray is averaging 19/5/6 while shooting 39% from outside the arc, while Young is having his best month of the season, averaging 24 points and 12 assists and shooting 45% from the field and 41% from three-point range.

Therefore, the Knicks will be up for the challenge going at it with those two. Newly acquired guard Josh Hart may see some added playing time and would likely guard the taller, more athletic Murray to thwart him from getting into the mid-range and restricted area on offense and also secure big rebounds.

There’s also a high likelihood of seeing Immanuel Quickley on Trae Young at various points throughout the game to put some extra on-ball pressure on him.

Offensively, the Knicks have the firepower to keep up with Murray and Young. Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle have been playing exceptional basketball of late, with Brunson coming off of a 41-point performance on 15-21 shooting from the field in Monday’s victory over the Brooklyn Nets, continuing to prove why he was snubbed of an All-Star appearance.

Randle, an All-Star reserve this season, has scored at least 24 points in three of his last five games and has reached double figures in rebounds in three of five games as well.

Another big performance from those two will be the main catalysts if the Knicks expect to exit Atlanta victorious.

Looking at injuries, Mitchell Robinson (thumb surgery) is out for the Knicks. For the Hawks, John Collins (hip) is questionable, and DeAndre Hunter (ankle) is also questionable.

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