Knicks’ quiet trade deadline could be their playoff undoing

The March 25 trade deadline got here, handed and the Knicks subtracted as an alternative of added.

The Knicks traded combo guard Austin Rivers. They gave up on 2019 second-round decide Ignas Brazdeikis. They launched the gamers coming again within the deal, opening two roster spots.

According to a supply, Tom Thibodeau had hoped for an improve, however none ever got here. Management nonetheless considered the 2020-21 season as a stepping stone with eyes on a possible $60 million in summer time cap area.

The supply mentioned Thibodeau was in love with Toronto two-way shooting guard Norman Powell, who was traded to Portland and is excelling within the playoffs vs. Denver.

One of the Knicks’ two open roster spots went to third-string heart Norvel Pelle, who has not performed a minute within the first-round collection in opposition to Atlanta.

The different spot was taken by the signing of Argentinian combo guard Luca Vildoza, who was in New York relatively than Atlanta this weekend. Vildoza tweeted a photograph of himself, lounging and watching the Hawks’ Game 4 demolition.

Though Vildoza is out of quarantine since arriving from Spain 10 days in the past, Thibodeau views Vildoza as a next-season project and COVID-19 protocols nonetheless make it difficult.

Meanwhile, subsequent season is almost upon the Knicks, who’re again Wednesday for Game 5 on the Garden attempting to increase their magical season that noticed them put up a 41-31 document.

After being routed within the two video games in Atlanta, they path 3-1 within the collection. No Knicks group in 13 tries has ever recovered from that deficit, together with the final Knicks playoff group in 2012-13 in opposition to Indiana, which ultimately misplaced in six.

The Knicks would love a return journey to Atlanta for a Game 6 as they’ll have their fantastically frenzied crowd of 16,000-plus after melting within the State Farm Arena din.

“(The crowd) gave us a boost the first two games, but we’ve got to give them a reason to cheer and give us a boost,” Knicks heart Taj Gibson mentioned. “They’ve been the sixth man for us, nevertheless it’s as much as us to make the corrections, include the correct of vitality.

“They’re a really talented team. They’ve been playing extremely well the last couple games. It’s up to us to do what we have to do and bring this thing back to Atlanta.”

The Knicks’ function gamers have struggled massively to attain and take the immense burden off their chief Julius Randle, who confirmed enchancment in Game 4 (23 factors, seven assists, 10 rebounds), however remains to be taking pictures 27 % in his first playoff look.

The Knicks are taking pictures simply 32 % from 3-point land after being such a shock in the course of the common season.

Thibodeau eliminated level guard Elfrid Payton from the beginning lineup and didn’t play him in any respect within the two blowout defeats.

With the Knicks 0-2 within the collection with Derrick Rose because the starter and now not chief of the bench brigade, they could certainly use a savvy veteran guard comparable to Rivers. He’s a key contributor for the Nuggets, however he had a falling out with Thibodeau over being yanked from the rotation.

Knicks Hawks NBA playoffs 2021 Tom Thibodeau
Knicks president Leon Rose; head coach Tom Thibodeau
Corey Sipkin (2)

Thibodeau mentioned Sunday “everything is on the table” for Game 5. Figure Frank Ntilikina will be a consideration to hound the explosively spectacular level guard Trae Young, who’s averaging 27.5 factors and 10 assists in 4 video games.

Those shocked by Atlanta’s playoff domination after the Knicks swept them 3-0 within the common season ought to have seen a few of this coming. Jeff Van Gundy, Thibodeau’s closest buddy, positive did.

The Hawks, who added bench stud Lou Williams on the deadline, have been by no means at full energy in any of the video games like now.

Before the collection, Van Gundy noted, “Atlanta has more talent. The Knicks play their best players a lot of minutes. Their guys play. The Knicks don’t take nights off. In the playoffs, that all goes away. Everybody is locked in and everybody plays. There’s no load management. It will be interesting to see if the Knicks have enough in a playoff scenario to hold up.”

They haven’t. Not but.

De’Andre Hunter, the Hawks’ 2019 lottery decide whom brass beloved a lot they moved as much as No. 4 after the Knicks took RJ Barrett, missed two of the three regular-season Knicks contests. He’s been chief hound in making life depressing for Randle.

Danilo Gallinari, the Knicks’ 2008 lottery decide who has lit them up for 33 factors within the two wins in Atlanta, additionally missed two of the three regular-season contests.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Atlanta’s 3-point specialist, missed one of many three video games.

And Young left the April loss with an ankle damage with the Hawks up eight late within the third quarter.

Ironically, the Knicks made free-agent gives to Gallinari and Bogdanovic final November — petrified of their 3-point taking pictures.

At full energy, the Hawks look too loaded. However, Thibodeau’s Knicks ought to go down combating — possibly actually after the kerfuffles within the last minutes of Game 4.

“I think you look at the group this is a lot of their first time playing in the playoffs,” Gibson mentioned. “You’ve got to make adjustments, just learning on the curve. (Randle) is just learning on a curve. I think everybody on our team is just learning on a curve.”

The studying could finish Wednesday.

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