Atlanta Hawks superstar Trae Young fired up his first NBA Playoff series a couple of weeks ago against the New York Knicks. As the young sharpshooter took the floor at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he experienced perhaps the most hostile environment in his entire career.
During Game 1 of the first round, Young established himself as a villain in New York. As Knicks fans did all they could to try and get under the young guard's skin, Young embraced the moment and helped lead his team to a win over the Knicks and got the last laugh in the series-opener.
Although Atlanta lost the next matchup, Young still experienced an extremely passionate crowd. However, Knicks fans didn't affect him too much. In the end, the Hawks managed to defeat the Knicks 4-1 in the first-round series and got themselves a ticket to the second round of the playoffs, where they'll face the Philadelphia 76ers.
Going from New York to Philly, the on-court competition surely gets tougher for the Hawks. And the environment with Philly fans definitely doesn't get any easier for Young, who will more than likely experience a similar battle between the player and the crowd, who will look to get under his skin.
Sixers veteran center Dwight Howard admittedly enjoys seeing players having fun with crowds, as he's the type to interact with fans throughout the game himself. On Friday, Howard sent a message to Young, though, warning him that he might not want to play the same role as a villain in Philly.
“He don’t want no smoke with these ones," Howard said, following practice. "Not no Philly fans! We for real about our team over here. We for real. Nah, I love it. I think the going back-and-forth with the fans, having a good time, it’s entertainment. This is why the fans are back. They want to see a good show. Him playing, him going at the crowd, but now we got the Philly crowd. It’s gonna be great. I’m looking forward to it.”
Young is likely looking forward to it as well. Seeing as though he enjoyed playing the role of the enemy in New York, he'll probably feed off of the same energy when playing in front of the sold-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia too.