With the series tied 1-1, the #4 New York Knicks visit the #5 Atlanta Hawks for Game 3 of their opening-round match up in the Eastern Conference playoffs. After a disappointing performance in Game 1, the Knicks rallied back from a 13-point deficit at halftime to win Game 2, and pull even in the series thanks to heroics from Derrick Rose with 27 points off the bench.

Derrick Rose NY Knicks Atlanta Hawks Game 3 NBA Playoffs
Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks penetrates the paint against Tony Snell of the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the opening-round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. (Image: Peter Carini/Getty)

Knicks fans harassed Atlanta’s Trae Young during both games at Madison Square Garden. Young embraced his role as the new villain at the Garden after he hit a game-winner in Game 1 to silence the boisterous crowd. However, a couple of inebriated fans went too far in Game 2. The Knicks organization quickly banned the unruly fans who spit on Young and slandered him with derogatory pejoratives which questioned his sexual preferences.

But now, the series departs Gotham and heads south down to Hotlanta where the action shifts for Game 3 and Game 4.

GAME 3: #4 New York Knicks (1-1) at #5 Atlanta Hawks (1-1)
  • Tip-off: 4:00pm ET
  • Location: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • Point Spread: ATL -4.5
  • Total: 211 o/u
  • Money Line: NYK +165 / ATL -185
  • Series Line: NYK +122 / ATL -150

The Knicks are +4.5 road dogs against the Hawks in Game 3. The total went under in both games this series. For Game 3, the over/under total is 211.

The Knicks are underdogs to win the series at +122 odds, whereas the Hawks are -150 odds favorites according to a recent update by DraftKings.

Knicks: Randle Slow Start, Rose MVP off bench

Julius Randle won the NBA Most Improved Player this season, but he had an awful performance in Game 1. Randle scored 15 points and added 12 rebounds, but he was a non-factor down the stretch in the 109-107 loss. He missed 17 shots on 6-for-23 shooting, which seemed par for the course for the starters. The Knicks starting five tallied just 41 points, while the Knicks bench generated 64 points including 27 points from Alec Burks and 17 points from Derrick Rose, and 10 points from rookie point guard Immanuel Quickley.

In Game 2, the bench outscored the starting five once again 56-45. Randle only scored 15 points, but the Knicks pulled out the 101-92 comeback victory after the Hawks went cold in the second half. The Knicks were down 13 points heading into halftime after scoring just 44 points.

“Obviously we were disappointed with the way we played in the first half, but I knew in the second half there’d be great fight and there was,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau.

A 16-2 run in the third quarter sparked the comeback. Rose was the big hero in Game 2 with 26 points to lead the second unit. Burks added 11 and rookie Obi Toppin added 8 off the bench.

The Knicks were the best team in the NBA defending the 3-pointer. They held the Hawks to 12 treys on both nights, including 12-for-34 in Game 1 and 12-for-44 in Game 2. They smothered Atlanta’s snipers — Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari — who combined for 4-for-22 from downtown in Game 2.

Hawks: Home turf for Game 3, bench shooting woes

Young scored 32 points in Game 1 and 30 points in Game 2. The All-Star will always gets his points. Yet, the Hawks are at their best when he’s sharing the rock as a playmaker. Young must get his big men involved in Game 3.

In Game 2’s loss, Clint Capela and John Collins combined for just four points on 2-for-7 shooting for the Hawks. Collins got into early foul trouble, but finished the second game with zero points. In Game 1’s victory, Collins/Capela combined for 21 points and 20 rebounds on an efficient 9-for-16 shooting from the floor.

The Hawks are happy to return home to Atlanta for their first playoff game in the Trae Young era.

“I hope Atlanta’s ready to bring that energy and I hope it’s loud and I hope everybody’s excited to have playoffs back in the A,” explained Young. “It’s going to be fun. I’m ready to play back inside that arena in front of those fans.”

The Hawks do not rely on their bench as much as the Knicks do to provide an offensive boost. However, the Hawks’ second unit were outplayed in both games. In Game 2, the Atlanta’s bench was outgunned 56-22 by the Knicks bench mob.

Lou Williams, known as Mr. Sixth Man during his time with the LA Clippers, scored just five points off the bench on 1-for-6 shooting in Game 2’s loss. Gallinari also went cold with a 2-for-9 clip from beyond the arc.

“We got to do a better a job of generating offense when Trae’s resting,” said Atlanta head coach Nate McMillan. “Especially our shooters.”

The Hawks bench couldn’t hit a 3-pointer at MSG to save their lives. They shot 4-for-14 in Game 1, but struggled with a frigid 3-for-14 in Game 2. So far in the series, the Hawks bench combined for 25% from downtown.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

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