Studs and Duds: Knicks fall to Atlanta Hawks

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks hosted the Atlanta Hawks while missing arguably their four most impactful players. The cascade of injuries that’ve accumulated in New York is nearing ‘detrimental’ territory. Tied for the fourth seed now with 20 games to play, the once-surging Knicks may find themselves in the play-in if adjustments aren’t made soon. 

Knicks Getting Impact Play From Josh Hart

The past few weeks have seen Josh Hart play his best basketball since becoming a member of the New York Knicks. Averaging 15.8 points and 12.6 rebounds over the last five games, Josh Hart had a slow start against the Hawks before a terrific second half.

While attempting to come back big, Hart led the way, finishing with 14 points, all in the second half, adding eight rebounds and six assists. The dexterity of Josh Hart has been remarkable, as this was his seventh consecutive game playing 40+ minutes.

Taking a loss is never good, but Hart couldn’t be too pressed on his birthday as he stated, “The margin for error is small obviously with all the guys that we have out. We can’t have those slow starts…” 

The now 29-year-old has had nine total games this season with 40+ minutes played. Showing incredible fortitude will reward Hart in the end, but the debut of Shake Milton will certainly shave the excess minutes Hart has been playing. 

McBride and Achiuwa have arrived

Extended minutes have been the cause of a prolific rise from both Miles McBride and Precious Achiuwa. Following a 47-minute outing, McBride had a 45-minute night against the Atlanta Hawks. Viewing this time as an ultimate opportunity, Deuce McBride has quickly become a favorite to fans and the coaching staff.

Regarding the minutes allocated, McBride stated:

“This is what I’ve wanted, to be guarding the best player and to be playing point guard at a high level. This is what I’ve wanted my whole life.” 

The development of young players under the tutelage of Tom Thibodeau has been a highlight of the season. The extended minutes seem jarring given the restrictions and rest so prevalent in the league today, but the results have made serviceable rotation players who can add to a winning team throughout their entire careers. 

Previous Achiuwa’s rise to prominence in the absence of Robinson and partly Hartenstein has demonstrated his ability to be a permanent rotation piece upon the return of the starting front court.

Against the Hawks, Achiuwa showed incredible tenacity while finishing with 15 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. In February, Achiuwa averaged 12.1 points and 10.6 rebounds. The energy exerted by Achiuwa will be perfect behind the returning Julius Randle, giving the Knicks a level of depth rarely seen across the NBA. This walking double-double is the fourth man in New York’s healthy front-court rotation.

The level of reliance on Achiuwa for an extended stretch has been a great example of another young player taking a leap under the Tom Thibodeau-led New York Knicks. 


The 4th – 8th seeds in the East are separated by a game and a half. A lack of prominent rotation pieces has left New York hanging on by a thread in the Eastern Conference. Currently, on a four-game home stand, this is time for the Knicks to revitalize and return to prominence in the NBA.

The winning conversations that New York partook in are on a train moving fast with every loss taken. Over the past ten games, New York holds a 3-7 record while being 28th in defensive rating across the league. The identity of New York isn’t a question after being a top 3 defense while maintaining one of the best net ratings healthy, but every game becomes a challenge to maintain a level of play without a team’s best weapons.

In great news, the Knicks announced that Jalen Brunson’s MRI came back negative, opening the door for his return when ready. The trio of Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson, and OG Anunoby will completely alter the current state of the New York Knicks, and that can’t come any sooner. 


Poor shooting and a lack of defense resulted in a slow start and a game of ‘catch-up’ for the rest of this contest against the Atlanta Hawks. Looking ahead, the Knicks face off against the team they sit tied with at fourth seed, the Orlando Magic. In this contest, New York may have to return artillery and some new.

Jalen Brunson may be good to go against Orlando, but Shake Milton has been making waves since the announcement of his signing. The reception since Alec Burks rejoined the New York Knicks has been of mixed reviews.

In ten games, Burks has shot 32% from the field and 29% from the three-point line. The debut of Shake Milton will surely make headlines. The former prominent sixer, who had a career-high of 39 points, now looks to begin his career with New York in the world’s most famous arena. 

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