Skip to main content


With time running out on the New York Knicks, Trae Young knocked down a step-back 30-footer before turning and bowing to the hostile crowd. TNT analyst Reggie Miller said, "You are in the Garden. You might as well take a bow."

Moments later, the Knicks were eliminated at the hands of the upstart Atlanta Hawks. Young's historic performance at Madison Square Garden came during unprecedented levels of hatred from fans. A few months back, I spoke with Hawks announcer Bob Rathbun who shared incredible stories about that series.

Tonight will be the first time these two teams have met since that heated series. But, of course, it will be in the safe confines of State Farm Arena. The real crucible will be on Christmas Day when the Hawks return to the Big Apple.

Nevertheless, the Knicks are running into the Hawks at another inopportune time. The Hawks have won seven consecutive games. Trae Young averages 25.6 points (8th best in the league) and 9.2 assists (tied for second in the league) per game. 'Ice Trae' is doing this on 3.2 fewer free throws per game, by the way.

Clint Capela appears to be feeling better after a lengthy battle with Achilles tendon issues. 'The Swiss Bank' is fourth in the league with 12.3 rebounds per game. John Collins is rounding out the frontcourt with an ultra-efficient 16.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game (get 'John The Baptist' to the All-Star Game expeditiously).

Thanks to the Hawks big three and role players feeling more comfortable, the Hawks have the third-highest offensive rating (112.9) in the league. Meanwhile, the Knicks have lost six of their last ten games. As a result, their offensive rating (107.9) is middle of the pack, and their defensive rating (108.5) is 19th in the league. 

But in the words of Mark Jackson, "don't tell me what they can't do, tell me what they can do." The Knicks can protect the rim, averaging 6.1 blocks per game (third in the league). Between Nerlens Noel, Mitchell Robinson, and Taj Gibson, the Hawks will not get any easy looks in the paint.

Also, the Knicks can shoot the rock. They rank in the top-nine in three-point attempts (37.6), makes (13.7), and percentage (36.5%). They have seven players who shoot above 33% from deep and three that hit at a 40% clip from three. The Knicks can and will put you out of the game if they get rolling on offense. 


Both teams played last night, so we're still waiting on official injury reports. However, the Knicks might be without Derrick Rose (ankle) and Taj Gibson (groin). The Hawks injury report will include De'Andre Hunter (right wrist tendon surgery) and Onyeka Okongwu (right shoulder injury recovery) for at least another month.

SI Sportsbook lists the Hawks as 5.5-point favorites. I agree with their thinking on this matchup. The Hawks are red hot while the Knicks are treading water. Even worse for the Knicks, they were just in New York City a few hours ago. 

Final Thoughts

Everyone knows the real test for these two teams will come on Christmas Day in Madison Square Garden. That makes this game a dress rehearsal, so you can safely assume plenty of theatrics and bowing from the Hawks All-Star point guard Trae Young tonight.

Interview: Nick Van Exel at 50

Jalen Johnson Starring in BET Docuseries

Trae Young Recreates 'Miller Time' in Pacers Jersey

Like SI Hawks on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on all the latest Hawks news!