Madison Square Garden buzzed as the Knicks played their first playoff game in eight years. Fans celebrated a return toward normalcy from the coronavirus pandemic, packing vaccinated sections. Spike Lee rollicked courtside. An early “F*** Trae Young” filled the arena.
Fans created an absolutely electric environment.
Until Young shushed them.
The Hawks guard hit the game-winning floater with 0.9 seconds left to lead Atlanta to a 107-105 Game 1 win Sunday. After the basket, Young held his index finger to his mouth. The crowd quieted. Lee stood with his hands on his hips.
“It got real quiet in the end, and for me, I want to hear those F-you chants again,” Young said on TNT.
Maybe he will during Game 2 Wednesday in New York.
Young finished with 32 points and 10 assists. Players with 30 points and 10 assists in their first playoff game:
Young scored or assists 21 of Atlanta’s final 24 points. The exception: A tying 3-pointer with 55 seconds left by Bogdan Bogdanovic (18 points):
Bogdanovic CLUTCH trey for the tie 😳pic.twitter.com/ae5j62bfLS
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 24, 2021
Even that pass to Bogdanovic was made by Young, but New York tipped the ball and Bogdanovic had to battle for it before hitting the clutch basket.
After an Atlanta stop, Young hit a pair of free throws to put Atlanta up two. Young – who ranked fourth in the NBA with 8.7 free-throw attempts per game in the regular season – didn’t get to the foul line until midway through the fourth quarter. But he finished 9-for-9 on free throws.
Derrick Rose answered on the other end with a tying runner with 9.8 seconds left:
That set the stage for Young’s game-winner.
Knicks star Julius Randle (15 points on 6-of-24 shooting) never found a rhythm, including missing a jumper on the final possession.
New York’s backup guards played well, though. Alec Burks (27 points on 9-of-13 shooting and four assists) was red hot. Derick Rose (17 points and five assists) consistently got to the rim. Rookie Immanuel Quickley (10 points and three assists) looked right at home on the bigger stage.
Perhaps, the Knicks will change their starting lineup in Game 2. Elfrid Payton (0-for-3 in just eight minutes) looks like a strong candidate to get benched. Rose played 38 minutes, and it’d be better to spread his playing time across a longer period rather than jamming it into the final portions of each half.