Hawks return to New York, aim to close out Knicks in Game 5
After an impressive Game 4 win on Sunday at State Farm Arena, the Atlanta Hawks travel to Manhattan to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday evening. The Hawks lead the first round series by a 3-1 margin and, by proxy, Atlanta has the chance to advance with a win on the road in Game 5.
Throughout the series, Trae Young has been the biggest story for the Hawks and with good reason. The third-year guard has scored at least 20 points in each of the four games, averaging 27.5 points and 10.0 assists per game while posting a 59.3 percent true shooting mark. New York’s top-flight regular season defense is holding Atlanta below its full-season baseline on a team-wide basis, but the Knicks have displayed no answers for Young, which helps to lead the Hawks to this advantageous position.
Elsewhere, Atlanta’s perimeter shooting came alive at home, with the Hawks converting 47.0 percent of their three-point attempts in Games 3 and 4. That success brings the Hawks to a 38.3 percent mark from three-point distance for the series, and Atlanta has been able to generate clean looks, even in half-court settings.
On the defensive end, the Hawks are also rolling at the moment, holding the Knicks to just 103.1 points per 100 possessions during the series. Much of that effectiveness stems from the inability of Knicks forward Julius Randle to find his footing — a full breakdown of Atlanta’s approach is here — and Randle’s 27.4 percent shooting can at least partially be attributed to the defensive game plan of the Hawks.
As a team, the Knicks have the worst effective field goal percentage (46.0 percent) of any team in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. While New York has won the rebounding battle for the series, the Hawks threw a counterpunch in Game 4, securing 83.3 percent of available defensive rebounds and holding the Hawks to a 100.0 offensive rating as a result.
Game 5 will almost assuredly take place in front of a raucous crowd at Madison Square Garden. With that in mind, New York’s home-court advantage does come into play, but the Hawks have been the definitively superior team (+6.3 net rating) in the series, and Atlanta can take solace in their overall effectiveness as the scene shifts back to New York. Still, Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan has made it clear in comments to the media that the team expects its biggest challenge of the series in Game 5 as the Knicks try to avoid elimination.