Bring on Hotlanta!
The Knicks completed up their riveting common season Sunday on the Garden on Fan Appreciation Day and will open the playoffs right here beneath the famed pinwheeled ceiling subsequent weekend for the primary time since 2013.
Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks beat the Boston junior varsity, 96-92, to clinch fourth place and home-court benefit in the primary spherical of the NBA playoffs earlier than a pandemic-reduced crowd of 1,981.
The Knicks, who plan to host 5,700 followers for the playoffs, end the 2020-21 marketing campaign at 41-31 and on a three-game successful streak.
On a 15-0 late run, the Celtics scared the lights out of the all of the sudden ice chilly Knicks by reducing the deficit to 91-89 with 2:40 left however they held on barely. The Knicks virtually blew a 21-point second-half lead because the Celtics minimize it to 2 factors after Tremont Waters intercepted a Derrick Rose move and dashed in for a layup with 1:12 left.
In successful, the Knicks averted the Bucks in the primary spherical and as an alternative will face the Hawks – a membership they’ve dealt with 3 times this season that comes in missing in playoff expertise.
The azaleas are lovely in the spring in Georgia, however the Knicks will face the Hawks in Games 1 and a pair of on the Garden beginning both Saturday or Sunday. The Knicks’ common season dwelling file wound up at 25-11.
The final time the Knicks noticed Hawks star level guard Trae Young was final month when he was being helped off the Garden court docket after spraining his ankle after a collision with heart Norvel Pelle.
Las Vegas made the Knicks 11-point favorites Sunday as a result of the Celtics have been locked into the seventh seed and didn’t play their high seven gamers, resting for the play-in event.
Jaylen Brown is already out for the season with a wrist damage however coach Brad Stevens sat All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, trade-deadline addition Evan Fournier and large males Robert Williams and Tristan Thompson.
Randle capped his first All-Star season with 20 factors, seven rebounds and 7 assists. He made some historical past by ending the season with averages of 24-plus factors, 10-plus rebounds and six-plus assists.
Randle is the primary Knick to do it and solely 5 gamers in NBA historical past have achieved that feat (Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, Russell Westbrook and Nikola Jokic, who did it this season.)
The Knicks continued to mild it up from 3-point vary – a perceived weak spot coming into the season – making 13 of 27 makes an attempt. Reggie Bullock pumped in 16 factors, going 4 of seven on 3’s. RJ Barrett, who performed in all 72 video games, completed with 22 factors.
The Celtics began ex-Knick Luke Kornet at heart and rookie Payton Pritchard at level guard however that modest lineup led after one quarter, 24-23, and have been tied with the full-strength Knicks at 35 with 4:30 left in the half earlier than the Knicks pulled away to take a 54-39 lead at intermission.
Before taking the court docket Sunday, Thibodeau was requested if he thought on the final day of the common season he’d want one win to wrap up fourth place.
(*4*) Thibodeau stated. “If we did the right thing, we would have had chance to be a decent team. This team continues to improve and grow. It’s not surprising when you’re around them every day and see the commitment they’ve made.”
They’ve stunned the remainder of the NBA universe. In Atlanta, they face a squad touted through the preseason due to their free-agent additions.
The Hawks are deep and gifted – with franchise cornerstone Young main the barrage however surrounded by shooters in Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. Their frontcourt options shot-blocking extraordinaire Clint Capela and scoring energy ahead John Collins.