julius randle new york knicks
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Julius Randle finished strong in Game 2, but the New York Knicks really need him to go off in Game 3 in Atlanta.

Josh Benjamin

Yoo-hoo! Julius Randle? Are you there?

OK, fine. So that was unnecessary. Julius Randle overcame a horrific Game 1 and a slow start in Game 2 to actually finish strong as his New York Knicks evened the series.

Except this is the playoffs, and the season was such that an exit this early won’t sit well with Knicks fans. The whole team seems out of sync, Randle especially. Walt “Clyde” Frazier says it all the time on MSG broadcasts that “no flow or continuity” hurts the Knicks.

Throw the pesky Trae Young into the equation, and New York’s struggles are magnified all the more.

And do you know how all of that could be alleviated? By Julius Randle having an absolutely dominant Game 3.

Randle’s rough start

Randle was so out of sorts over the first game and a half of the series that he might as well have been Paul George. He had the ball in his hands plenty in Game 1, but looked completely lost.

Game 2 appeared more of the same but, to Randle’s credit, he finished strong. Thirteen of his 15 points came in the second half, plus he finished with 12 rebounds and a net rating of +3. Randle also showed more initiative with the basketball and didn’t turn into Courage the Cowardly Dog once he was double-teamed.

Even so, Julius Randle is averaging just 15 points and 12 rebounds through two postseason games and is shooting an awful 28.2% from the field. Oddly enough, he has made 30.8% of his threes.

This is not the man who averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6.0 assists while having a career year from long range en route to being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player.

If the New York Knicks are going to beat the Atlanta Hawks this series, they need the real Julius Randle in Game 3 and beyond.

Randle owns Atlanta

It’s also worth noting that in the 2020-21 season, Julius Randle literally owned the Atlanta Hawks. The Knicks played them three times and he averaged 37.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists per contest.

Furthermore, Randle shot 58.1% from the field and 50% from three against the Hawks, and his true shooting percentage (TS%) was 73.2%. He might as well have been playing NBA 2K against Atlanta, and on beginner mode.

This means Julius Randle is set up almost perfectly to have a big game at State Farm Arena. It’s no Madison Square Garden, but he had 28 points and 17 rebounds in New York’s sole trip there this season. With the extra adrenaline of Game 3, he has to channel that type of dominance.

Randle must have Charles Oakley’s fearlessness in the paint and John Starks’ determination on offense. His brand of leadership is all his own and once he gets going, his teammates will rally behind him.

Julius Randle knows what he has to do in Game 3 to help the New York Knicks to a 2-1 series edge.

Now, let’s see him actually do it.

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