Hawks vs. Knicks Preview

dkf200122004 lac atl

Happy New Year, SportsTalkATL readers! The Hawks kicked off 2021 with a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday and will look to get their first win of the new year tonight against the Knicks. Let’s see what we have to look forward to.

Atlanta Hawks (4-2) vs. New York Knicks (3-3)

  • When: Monday 1/4 at 7:30pm/et
  • Where: State Farm Arena, ATL.
  • Line: Hawks -7, -112
  • Over/Under: 224

New York Knicks

The Knicks, most experts predict, are going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA this season. However, they are a young rebuilding team that has surpassed expectations through six games. They have a .500 record, which includes a 20-point win over Eastern Conference powerhouse Milwaukee Bucks. They are led by former Wolves and Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who has injected a winning attitude and culture.

Offensively, Julius Randle carries the Knicks. He is having the best season of his career so far, leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists. New York has surrounded Randle with an interesting roster that includes former Duke star and #3 overall pick RJ Barrett. Barrett has begun his sophomore season playing much better than he did in his rookie season, averaging a 17/6/3 stat line, but he still struggles with efficiency. They’ll need him to continue to fine-tune his game before they have any chance of returning to the playoffs. If the Hawks can slow down these two guys tonight, they should be just fine. 

Atlanta Hawks

After the Hawks split their games against the Brooklyn Nets, they lost to the upstart Cavaliers, who are the most surprising team so far this season. Some people probably panicked after the loss to the Cavs, but we shouldn’t overreact. John Collins and Trae Young had off shooting nights, and a letdown was to be expected the day after beating Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the road.

The Hawks need to defend opposing guards much better. In their two losses this season, Kyrie Irving and Collin Sexton were the catalysts down the stretch, but things won’t get any easier with Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo still out due to injuries. 

Prediction

The good news for the Hawks entering this game is that the Knicks don’t have the scoring potency of the Brooklyn Nets or an elite guard to give Trae Young problems. If Elfrid Payton goes off tonight, I apologize. The Knicks are a team with porous outside shooting and will look to score at the rim with plenty of dribble drives coming from RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. For the Hawks to win this game, they need to protect the paint. Capela and Collins will be tasked with slowing down Randle, forcing him into tough shots without fouling.

Offensively, the Hawks will look to bounce back after their poor shooting night against the Cavs. The Knicks are a solid defensive team, allowing only 104 points per game so far this season. They will try to slow the pace down and rough up the Hawks in the paint. That is what a Tom Thibodeau coached team has always done. If the Hawks can play at the pace they want, knock-down shots like we know they can, and protect the paint, they should emerge victorious.

Prediction: Hawks 115-105

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