NY Knicks: Julius Randle looks to keep dominating the Atlanta Hawks

Julius Randle, NY Knicks. DeCrow/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
Julius Randle, NY Knicks. DeCrow/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Knicks and their star forward Julius Randle are set to face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the NBA playoffs. New York secured homecourt in the first round after defeating the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Now, the playoff preparation begins.

The #4 seed New York Knicks will host the #5 seed Atlanta Hawks next weekend – a battle between two of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Hawks are itching to prove themselves against New York, who swept them in the regular season with only one of their matchups played under current head coach Nate McMillan. A lot of their attention is going to be on NY’s All-Star, Julius Randle.

NY Knicks: Julius Randle has owned the Atlanta Hawks this season

The last time these two teams faced off was less than a month ago when Julius Randle dropped 40 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 assists.

That wasn’t the only game where Randle went off against Atlanta – He scored 44 points and 28 points in their other two matchups.

These were Julius Randle’s 2020-21 season stats against the Hawks:

  • 3 Games
  • 37.3 Points
  • 12.3 Rebounds
  • 6.7 Assists
  • 58.1% Field Goal %
  • 50.0% 3-point Field Goal %

Every matchup for the 250lb Randle is a mismatch for his opponent, especially on the Hawks.

Randle will see a lot of John Collins, who has struggled defensively. When matched up with Collins this season, Randle has scored 39 points on 61.9% from the floor and 62.5% from 3. 

Collins has a difficult time keeping up with the agility and lateral quickness of Randle, and I Imagine the Hawks will try and throw some more De’Andre Hunter on him.

While Hunter has shown he can be a good perimeter defender, he does give up about 25 pounds to Randle. The Hawks’ other options include Bogdan Bogdanović and Danillo Gallinari, so expect plenty of double teams. Something Randle has seen a lot of.

The NY Knicks will run a lot of their offense through Randle – in the low post or around the elbow, they want to get Randle to his “spots”. His improved footwork and burst out of the triple threat have been near impossible to guard for slower, big power forwards like John Collins. The strength is overwhelming for lankier forwards.

You will see teams frequently bring double teams (Randle handles the 2nd most double teams of any frontcourt player in the NBA), which is when Randle will beat you with his passing. Randle is a willing passer whose improvement in that area has been vital to his growth into an All-NBA level player.

It’s a formula that has worked out very well for the NY Knicks this season. The Randle double team often leads to quick kick-out passes that translate into open 3-point attempts. The Knicks are 3rd in the NBA in 3-point field goal percentage.

The Atlanta Hawks have been playing inspired basketball under Nate McMillan, but they do not match up well with Julius Randle.

The NY Knicks have been getting healthier and have gotten some of their secondary scorers, such as Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley back in the lineup. Surrounding Julius Randle with shooters has been a formula for success all season long, and it’s hard to be confident that the Hawks have the defensive personnel to counter it.

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