Knicks: The key to beating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 is simple

julius randle, trae young, knicks, hawks
May 26, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) moves the ball against New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) during the second half of game two of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The key to beating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 4 for the New York Knicks is simple, as they have struggled to get going as of late.

At times, the knicks seem to lack communication and their players aren’t in the right mindset. During the regular season, the Knicks were having fun, enjoying the process and everything that accompanied success. However, the playoffs represent an entirely different beast, testing the bounds of their mental proficiency and physical aggression.

Unfortunately, the inexperience for some players in the postseason has hurt New York up to this point, as both RJ Barrett and Julius Randle are trying to find their comfort zone and footing at the next level. Barrett has struggled shooting after enjoying a late-season stretch of three-point shots that coined him as one of the most efficient shooters from the baseline.

Randle, who had himself one of the best seasons in Knicks history, is falling apart at the seams in the postseason. He won the “Leagues Most Improved Player” award, averaging 24.1 points, 6.0 assists, and 10.2 rebounds this season, all career highs.

The strategy for the Knicks should be simple, and unfortunately, it won’t work unless Julius Randle plays to his All-Star potential.

“This is normal,” Thibodeau insisted Saturday. “This is the playoffs. It’s being intense, the ups-and-downs, navigate everything. We have to do all the things that have gotten us here. There’s an intensity to it. Stay focused on how we can improve and get better.”

The Hawks seem to think they have a secret ingredient to stopping Randle, and I think it might be more mental than anything. When you’re facing off against a player like Trae Young, who’s capable of scoring at any given moment, you need to have players who can match his production and efficiency in one way or another.

Julius must be that player for the Knicks, stepping up and scoring when the team goes cold. However, he’s done the exact opposite, turning the ball over frequently, taking inefficient shots, and clearly displaying anger instead of confidence on the floor.

The reality is simple: Unless Randle can step up and play like his former self, the Knicks will lose this series and get knocked out of the postseason early despite a Cinderella story this year.