At the top of the list of questions the Knicks faced going into the playoffs: When the opposing defense slowed down Julius Randle, where would the offense come from?
It hasn’t come from anywhere.
Derrick Rose tried valiantly — he had 30 on Friday night and has been the best Knick in this series — but Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett shot a combined 4-of-24 in Game 3, and the Knicks as a whole shot 35.8%. The Knicks’ 101.1 offensive rating was 9.6 lower than their season average (and they were bottom 10 in the league).
Trae Young had 14 assists, matching the output of the entire Knicks team.
This Trae Young lob to Clint Capela 😤
Hawks fans are on their feet pic.twitter.com/MIBci7r7Or
— NBA TV (@NBATV) May 29, 2021
The result was a 105-94 Atlanta win at home that gives the Hawks a 2-1 series lead. Game 4 is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (ABC).
Young scored 21 to lead a balanced Atlanta attack that saw six players in double figures, plus Lou Williams with 9 off the bench.
Atlanta won this game from beyond the arc, shooting 16-of-27 from 3 as a team. Young was 2-of-6 from 3, but Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter were each 3-of-4, while Danilo Gallinari was a perfect 4-of-4. Atlanta outscored New York by 21 on 3s.
As they have been all series, the Knicks were scrappy in this game, led by Rose, who was getting downhill and attacking all night. New York attacked and drew fouls, and it was going to the line that kept the Knicks anywhere close in this game — they shot 27-of-30 from the line.
The game was close for most of the first half — if a bit choppy because the referees called it tight for a playoff game — but Young led a 22-5 Hawks run at the end of the first that helped Atlanta pull away, much to the delight of the crowd of 15,743. That crowd also let Randle hear it.
While Tom Thibodeau can try to come up with adjustments — he moved Rose and Taj Gibson into the starting lineup for Game 3 — it comes down to the Knicks needing more from Randle first. The Knicks are -11 in this series so far when he is on the court. Then, as the defense shifts to target him, other Knicks have to step up.
If not, the Knicks will head home from Atlanta in a deep hole that will be almost impossible to climb out of.