Oddly, beating the Hawks was one of the few good things the Knicks did last season. New York took three of four in the season series, including both games in Atlanta. The difference is unlike the Knicks, the Hawks made the playoffs, and now “Eff Trae Young” is practically NYC lingo.
Both teams have since reloaded. The Knicks added Jalen Brunson to play point guard and lead the offense. Atlanta, on the other hand, traded for Dejounte Murray to add another tough guard alongside Young, plus defense. The MSG crowd also guarantees this game will have playoff intensity.
Time: Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Injuries: Quentin Grimes (foot, questionable), Cam Reddish (non-COVID illness, questionable), Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee, out), Onyeka Okongwu (shoulder, questionable)
Betting Line: Knicks -2, Over/Under 234 (via DraftKings)
Key Storyline: Can the Knicks still keep up with the Hawks? The Knicks-Hawks rivalry is young enough that we’re still figuring out what each team brings to the table. New York is 6-1 against the Hawks over the last two years, but the Hawks have fared better in the playoffs. Both teams are different again this year, most notably with Atlanta adding Murray’s two-way skills.
And though the Hawks and Knicks are both middling teams in pace and offensive efficiency–and New York ranks tenth in defensive efficiency compared to Atlanta at 26th– the Hawks are still the faster team. If Atlanta can quickly set a fast pace through Young and Murray, New York could have its hands full once again.
Key Matchup: Dejounte Murray vs. Jalen Brunson. Yes, the Hawks start Murray at shooting guard, but he’ll definitely be guarding Brunson. Young’s -3.9 defensive box plus/minus (DBPM) guarantees that. Murray is also averaging 20.1 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a career-best 40% from three.
It’s all the more important that Brunson have a strong game for the Knicks after struggling against Milwaukee and Cleveland. He shot 1 of 7 from three in those two games as his team struggled behind him. Against Atlanta, Brunson needs to fight past Murray’s ironclad defense so New York establishes a fast game early, and hopefully with plenty of effective scoring.
X-Factor: Mitchell Robinson. Robinson could really use a bounceback game after landing in foul trouble in his Knicks’ previous two. He’s averaging a career-best 2.5 blocks per game early on and could be in line for a big game against Atlanta. Clint Capela’s total rebound percentage (TRB%) is down from 23.5 last year to just 17.8 in 2022-23 and the Knicks must capitalize on this in the paint.
In fact, Robinson and backup center Isaiah Hartenstein could both be in line for dominant games. Even of Onyeka Okongwu plays, his bum shoulder could prevent him being fully effective. Robinson needs a big game and the stage is set for him to have a potentially excellent one.
Hawks predicted starters: Trae Young (PG), Dejounte Murray (SG), DeAndre Hunter (SF), John Collins (PF), Clint Capela (C)
Knicks predicted starters: Jalen Brunson (PG), Evan Fournier (SG), RJ Barrett (SF), Julius Randle (PF), Mitchell Robinson (C)
Prediction: Two hard losses on the road mean a rivalry game in front of a friendly home crowd is just what the doctor ordered. In other words, the New York Knicks will take the floor Wednesday and beat the Hawks. Atlanta will put up a good fight, with Young and Murray featuring heavily, but it won’t be enough.
In the end, a strong all-around team effort led by Brunson and Julius Randle will bring the win home.
New York Knicks defeat Atlanta Hawks 117-105