The New York Knicks returned to the postseason for the first time in seven years as the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference and will meet Trae Young and the #5 Atlanta Hawks in this must-see opening-round series. Julius Randle destroyed the Hawks this season with a pair of 40-plus point games to lead the Knicks to a 3-0 sweep during the regular season.

NBA Playoffs Preview Series New York NY Knicks Atlanta Hawks Julius Randle Trae Young
Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks swarms Julius Randle from the New York Knicks during a game earlier in the season in Atlanta. (Image: Kevin C. Cox/Getty)

The Atlanta Hawks are the slight series favorite as the #5 seed over the Knicks coming into the first round. The oddsmakers and public are not showing the Knicks any respect, which is understandable. But that’s why the Knicks offer up tremendous value because everyone is expecting them to get crushed by the Hawks.

The Knicks are +110 odds underdogs to win the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, whereas the Hawks are -135 odds favorites.

NBA PLAYOFFS – Series Odds
#4 New York Knicks (41-31) vs #5 Atlanta Hawks (40-32)
NY Knicks +110 Atlanta Hawks -136


NY Knicks vs Atlanta Hawks – SERIES SCORE
Knicks win 4-0 +1100
Knicks win 4-1 +600
Knicks win 4-2 +600
Knicks win 4-3 +475
Hawks win 4-0 +1300
Hawks win 4-1 +550
Hawks win 4-2 +425
Hawks win 4-3 +475

DraftKings posted a series score prop bet and the Hawks knocking out the Knicks in six games is a popular wager that pays out +425 odds. The Hawks winning in seven games pays out +475.

If you want to back the Knicks to win the series in six games, that prop bet pays put +600 odds. The Knicks edging out the Hawks in seven games pays out +475 odds.

Betting the Knicks and Hawks

The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks played each other three times during the regular season, and the Knicks swept the Hawks 3-0. Julius Randle dropped 40 points against the Hawks twice including a season-high 44 points back in February. In all three wins against the Hawks, Randle averaged 38.7 ppg.

The Knicks are the best defensive team in the NBA allowing 105 ppg this season. The Knicks relied on their defense to win games because they averaged only 107 ppg, which was ranked #26 in the NBA.

This might come to a shock to you, but the Knicks were premier betting team in the NBA this season covering the spread with a 45-26-1 ATS record. The Knicks were the third-best team in betting the under with a 40-32 record.

The Hawks finished the season eighth overall in defense allowing 110.7 ppg. They averaged 113.7 ppg, or ranked #13 in the league.

The Hawks posted a 39-32-1 ATS record and were 35-27 hitting the over this season.

Both the Knicks and Hawks are +10000 odds to win the 2021 NBA championship, according to DraftKings. At the start of the season, the Knicks were huge dogs at +30000 odds. Out of all 16 playoff teams, the Knicks were the biggest preseason long shot on the board.

NY Knicks: Thibs, Randle, and Treys

In the modern NBA, teams have to be able to shoot 3-pointers with deadly accuracy while shutting down the opposition’s perimeter game. The Knicks excelled at both shooting treys and defending them, which is the primary reason they secured the #4 seed in the east. The Knicks are ranked #2 overall in 3-point shooting with a 39.1%. success rate. Tom Thibodeau’s squad also boasted one of the best 3-point shooting defenses in the league ranked #1 allowing opponents to connect on only 33.7% of their 3-pointers.

The entire Knicks team vastly improved their 3-point shooting, particularly Julius Randle (41.5%) and RJ Barrett (40.1%). Along with Reggie Bullock (41% from 3-point land), the Knicks have three starters shooting over 40% from 3-point range.

Bullock (10.9 ppg) is the Knicks unsung hero as a reliable two-way player. When he gets his shot going, the Knicks are tough to beat. The Knicks are 11-17 when Bullock scores less than 10 points a game, yet the Knicks are 30-14 when he adds 10-plus points per game.

Randle will win the NBA Most Improved Player, but expect him to get a few MVP votes as well. It’s been a very long time since the chants of “MVP!” echoed in the rafters at MSG.

The Knicks boast a deep bench and stellar second unit led by Derrick Rose (14.9 ppg). It includes both of their first-round draft picks with rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickly. They also have Alec Burks (41.1% from downtown), who could be a starter for most of the teams in the league. Taj Gibson is the team’s locker room leader, but he’s done a stellar job stepping up when Mitchell Robinson went down.

Atlanta Hawks: McMillan boost

The Atlanta Hawks turned around their season when they fired head coach Lloyd Pierce after a 14-20 start and a well-documented frosty relationship with Trae Young. Nate McMillian, former head coach of the Indiana Pacers, took over as interim head coach and guided the Hawks from the #11 spot to the #5 seed. Under McMillian, they Hawks went 27-11 in the second half of the season.

McMillan started working the refs before the first game even tipped off. McMillian got himself into a bit of hot water when he hinted at an NBA conspiracy theory that the league and their media partners want the Knicks to go as far as they can in the postseason because the New York tristate area is the largest media market in the world.

“It’s a big market for the league and New York has been out of the playoffs for a number of years,” McMillan told the AJC. “This is a team that our league, they want to see. There’s a huge fanbase. They want to see New York in the playoffs. Even to the fact that, our game was moved to Sunday.”

Of course, it’s a no brainer that the Knicks returning to the postseason is good for big business across the board. McMillian walked back his statements after he drew a lot of heat, including the ire of the suits at NBA headquarters. They fined McMillan $25,000 for his truth bomb.

The Knicks will focus on slowing down Trae Young (25.3 ppg), John Collins (17.6 ppg), Bogdan Bogdanovic (16.4 ppg), and DeAndre Hunter (15.0 ppg). The Hawks biggest liability is their not-so deep bench, which is why they added former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams shortly before the trade deadline.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA postseason.

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