New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks: 3 matchups that will decide the series

Trae Young, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Trae Young, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /
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New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks
RJ Barrett, Cam Reddish New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks. Mandatory Credit: Jason DeCrow/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks are set to face off in what might be the most tightly contested first-round series of the 2021 NBA playoffs.

Both New York and Atlanta are two of the hottest teams in the league. Over their last 15 games, the Knicks have gone 11-4 while the Hawks are 10-5. They finished the season with the same record: 41-31.

New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks will be a chess match

New York was 3-0 against Atlanta this year, but don’t let that dominate the narrative heading into this series. Atlanta has been a different team since they promoted Nate McMillan to head coach mid-season.

These teams will mostly be at full health and will have zero excuses.

It’s not just the records that are identical – these teams with many similarities in their respective 2021 journeys. If you asked Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks fans if this season was already a success, they would instantly say yes.

These are younger teams who are experiencing success for the first time in a long time. Teams whose excitement is not just a result of being in the playoffs today but the fact that they have foundations for lasting success.

Both squads are coming into the playoffs with very little postseason experience. So while the storylines and the energy around these two teams may be similar, there is a lot of contrast in the player personnel.

An explosive backcourt with a variety of secondary wing scorers, the Hawks are a handful.

A relentless 250lb “point-forward” surrounded by elite shooting, the Knicks are a handful.

Both of these teams are going to be handfuls and it has the look of a series that will be decided by coaching. Let’s look at some of the key matchups to watch for in this series.