Perhaps it’s a bitter pill to swallow for Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young that the New York Knicks, the team he soundly beat in the playoffs two seasons ago, will play on Christmas Day while his team isn’t part of it.
After all, the Hawks made the playoffs last season while the Knicks did not.
Young made his feelings known when asked which among the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston Celtics, Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers he wanted to replace on the NBA Christmas Day schedule.
“[The] Knicks. I would probably swap us with them. I think it would be a better matchup, us versus Sixers.”Trae Young via Sports Illustrated
The Hawks did beat the Sixers after trouncing the Knicks on Young’s coming-out party on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2020-21 season. Atlanta’s playoff win triggered Ben Simmons’ fallout with the Sixers.
But Atlanta, like New York, could not make a fitting follow-up to their Cinderella run. Young barely made it to the playoffs last season and was bottled up in a 4-1 loss to the Miami Heat in the first round.
In response, Atlanta reshaped its roster with Dejounte Murray joining Young in the Hawks’ backcourt. So did New York, making a splash on last playoffs’ breakout star Jalen Brunson. And with the Knicks still the odds-on favorite to land Donovan Mitchell despite complicating it with RJ Barrett’s rookie extension, it made more sense for the league to put New York, one of the biggest markets, on the Christmas Day schedule over the Hawks, who are playing in a small market.
Young, however, made it clear, that his rivalry with the Knicks remains on the court.
“Anybody who knows me, who is close to the [Knicks] organization, they know I’ve got nothing but love and respect for them. But when we’re playing, I’m trying to beat and destroy them. That’s just how the game is.”Trae Young via Sports Illustrated
Young, currently New York’s most hated villain, will try to rekindle his love-hate affair with the Knicks and their fans at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2 and Dec. 7.
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