The Hawks will face the New York Knicks in the first round of the NBA playoffs, with the first game coming on Sunday. We’ve already broken down the series and given the official prediction. Now it’s time for a few bold predictions from Christian, Chase, Jake, and Alex!
First off, man this is going to be a great series. I am so pumped to see how Nate exploits matchups and hides some of the Hawks’ lesser defenders over an entire series. With that being said, I’m going to predict that John Collins averages over 22 points per game. I think if the Knicks come out and trap or double Young in the halfcourt, which they should, Collins will have plenty of opportunities to catch the ball in the post against smaller defenders or pop out for open threes. In three games against the Knicks this year, he averaged about 18 points per game on just 30 minutes per game. I think he’ll easily see 35-ish minutes per game, which would certainly help my prediction. I’d also like to make a smaller prediction: the Hawks win multiple games by double digits. I just think Atlanta’s offense has the potential to overwhelm New York and may cause a couple of contests to be decided well before the final buzzer.
If the Hawks win, I’m going to say that Clint Capela will be the MVP of the series. His defense and rebounding all season have been huge for the Hawks, and I think he’ll continue to bring elite paint protection for Atlanta. Not only will he defend and rebound, but his ability to finish plays off of missed shots and rolling to the rim will prove to be the difference-maker in the series. With that being said, I’ll also predict Trae Young to finish with 13+ assists per game. Trae shot just 36% against the Knicks this year (which will hopefully improve), but he still helped carry the Hawks’ offense with 12 assists per game. The amount of attention he’ll be getting will allow shooters like Bogi, Gallo, and Huerter to get open looks while also giving finishing opportunities to rollers. When you have the combination of elite shooting and finishing the Hawks’ support players possess, assists will rack up for the guy passing them the ball.
I agree with Chase for a different reason; I think Clint Capela will be the MVP if the Hawks win because they must slow down Julius Randle if they are going to win. My bold prediction, however, is that Bogdan Bogdanović goes absolutely nuts in this series. He’s currently on the injury report with a hamstring, but if he’s healthy, I think he could average well over his 16.4 PPG that he posted during the 2020-2021 regular season. He shot nearly 44% from three, and Trae Young will be feeding him plenty of dimes. You have to imagine the Knicks will make slowing down Trae a focal point and for a good reason. Hopefully, Kris Dunn and De’Andre Hunter are healthy and contributing; their defense will be welcome additions to take some pressure off of Trae. Nate McMillan has had issues getting out of the first round of the playoffs, but I think he has the talent at his disposal to get the monkey off his back if everyone is healthy. Finally, I’m going to get really bold and say Trae has a 40 burger and sinks a game-winner to cap it off. Also, at least one game goes into overtime.
I’ll go in a different direction than the others; the Hawks will stifle Julius Randle. Using a combination of De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela, my bold prediction is the Hawks hold the Knicks’ star to less than his season average in points. Randle will get his, but I believe with Hunter back in the fold, holding him under his 24.1 points per game throughout the series is possible. It’s a hot take for a reason; Randle will be the best player on the court for the first round, and he’s averaging 37.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists on 58.1% shooting from the field and 50% from deep in three matchups with Atlanta. Slowing down Randle will be the key to victory. Another cooler take of mine is Bogdan Bogdanovic will be the team’s second-leading scorer throughout the series.
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