ATLANTA — Throughout the season Tom Thibodeau got the best from Julius Randle.
Thibodeau has done wonders with the lowest salary teams in the Eastern Conference on their way to a shocking 41-31 regular season.
Game four of their first-round playoff series against the Hawks was Sunday amid a sea of red at State Farm Arena and Thibodeau was running out of time with the Knicks 2-1 behind, but he had no doubt Randle. who have separated and can still take control of this series
“We know how good he passes the ball,” Thibodo said after training on Saturday. “Just being Julius I don’t want him to think too much. let the game come to you Sometimes you have to shoot. Sometimes you have to play That̵7;s what he’s been doing very well all year. he is our engine He’s a fighter, he’s tough, he’s smart, he’ll figure it out.”
If he doesn’t, then everything is over. The first three games were a bleak true story, with Trae Young and his hawk sniper team being too much for the Knicks of Randle and RJ Barrett.
The Knicks’ snakehead – as the Hawks players called Randall before the series – lost his venom in the playoffs.
Atlanta coach Nate McMillan’s elaborate plans, Randle’s Kryptonite, the Hawks are giving him a different face to face. different defenders
“It’s a team effort,” said Atlanta’s Kevin Huerter, who is from the Albany area. “He is the head of a snake. When the team plays at their best He’s playing the best. He is filming and creating for others. We want to make it as hard as possible with him. We threw a different guy at him, defensively, feeling like someone else’s possession of everything that was swarmed by him.
“We’re just trying to show help when we can and force him into tough shots.”
Randle scored 15, 15 and 14 respectively in the first three games. That must be changed in the 4th game, otherwise the Knicks will stare into the 3-1 barrel and munitions.
“Now they’re really hard to score,” one NBA scout said of the Knicks.
A longtime NBA talent evaluator said it might be difficult for Thibodeau to unlock Randle the way he did in the regular season.
McMillan’s two- and three-team squad annoyed and failed Randle’s role in pointing forward.
“It’s hard to make more for Julius Randle because he has a lot of balls,” said the estimator. [Derrick] Rose, but then you limit Rose as a scorer. What it shows is their need to pass the card past the first point that can make Randle a finisher and not a creator.
“And they don’t have a third person that the team has to pay attention to wherever they are on the pitch. But they still have to find a way to increase the randle to make it easier to shoot.”
Thibodaux had to find a way. because now he is being held in custody and randle must drain the 3 open pointers. Which is how he does 41 percent of the time in the regular season.
“We’re just protecting him and really trying to deny his touch,” McMillan said. “Any player who has a season he has. And of course what he did to us in the regular season. You try to limit his touch. After that try to make him difficult to score and keep his body and try to get the body in front of him and get him to score better.”
Barrett hasn’t set his will in the series either. in the first three playoff games of his career Barrett averaged 11.3 points on 34.2 percent shooting — 25 percent (4 against 16) from 3-point range. Randle in his first three playoff games shot only 24.1 percent and had 10 turnovers.
Randle averaged 24.1 points in the regular season — and 37.3 points in three games against Atlanta. If the regular season randle does not play on Sunday The Knicks are heading into the summer and may question what their roots are.
The glimmer of hope was the play for Rose, 32, but he is worried because of the huge minutes he recorded at 38, 39 and 39 in his first three games and his injury history.
One NBA source said the series was suspended for just one day between games, which was a boon for the young hawks. The Knicks enter Game 2 after a two-day break.