Knicks focusing on shutting down Hawks star Trae Young

Coaches at all times will let you know that successful a playoff collection by no means is about stopping one opposing participant, however Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks actually are devising a recreation plan they hope will fight explosive level guard Trae Young throughout their first-round playoff series against the Hawks.

The Knicks really had first rate success towards the rising Atlanta star in successful all three video games throughout the common season, holding him to 36.2 % capturing and simply 3-for-14 (21.4 %) from 3-point land.

“Just try to limit [him]. He draws a lot of fouls. You have to limit those. That’s going to be it. Just try to make it tough on him without fouling,” Knicks guard RJ Barrett mentioned Thursday when requested about Young. “Definitely, that’s what this week is for: watching film, studying, every day, learning all of their plays, all of that.”

The 22-year-old Young averaged 25.3 factors per recreation in his third NBA season, down a couple of factors from final yr’s breakout output, when he completed fourth within the league scoring race with 29.6 per look.

Trae Young
Trae Young
Getty Images

Still, solely Wizards triple-double machine Russell Westbrook dished out extra assists this season than Young’s career-best common of 9.7 dimes per outing.

“He starts their offense. They kind of go as he goes,” Knicks level guard Elfrid Payton mentioned. “It’s going to be a team effort as always when you go against good players. I think we’ll be ready.”

Like rising Knicks equivalent to Julius Randle, Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and others, Young can be making his postseason debut, together with teammates John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu, Kevin Huerter and De’Andre Hunter.

Young scored a minimum of 20 factors in every of Atlanta’s three losses to the Knicks, however he was held to capturing nights of 9-for-22 on Jan. 4, 6-for-19 on Feb. 15 and 6-for-17 earlier than leaving with an ankle harm within the Knicks’ comeback win in extra time on April 21.

As Barrett talked about, Young nonetheless made his mark in these video games on the free-throw line, attending to the stripe 34 occasions and knocking down 29 of his makes an attempt. The 85.3 % conversion charge was only a shade beneath his wonderful season common of 88.6 %, 14th-best within the league.

Young’s 8.7 free-throw makes an attempt per recreation have been behind solely Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson league-wide.

Thibodeau talked about earlier this week the potential of Frank Ntilikina incomes an expanded function as a result of he’s had some success guarding Young previously. The former lottery decide didn’t gown for the primary two conferences this season as a result of harm, nevertheless, and he was obtainable however didn’t play within the April victory for the Knicks.

The Knicks solely allowed 30 or extra factors to a guard as soon as over their closing 20 regular-season video games; Devin Booker of the Suns registered 33 on April 26.

Defensively, the Knicks additionally ranked first within the NBA in factors allowed (104.7 ppg), field-goal share allowed (44.0 %) and 3-point share allowed (33.7 %).

Backup heart Taj Gibson took the “team effort” mantra a step additional, saying even these on the Knicks’ bench can assist within the effort to gradual Young and an Atlanta offense that averaged 113.7 factors a recreation this season.

“To be honest with you, it’s really going to take all 15 guys,” Gibson mentioned. “It’s going to take our bench talking and calling out plays the way we’ve been doing all year. It’s going to take all five guys keying in and trying to protect the paint, all five guys pushing out and running and trying to run guys off of long-range screens, rebounding the ball. It’s really going to take a whole group collective.”

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