New York Knicks should add to rotation vs Atlanta Hawks

Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Knicks are in a 3-1 hole against Atlanta. Tom Thibodeau hasn’t been afraid to adjust the rotation and adding another player could help.

The New York Knicks won game two at home to even up the first-round series at 1-1. At the conclusion of the game, Atlanta Hawks’ blossoming star Trae Young proclaimed, “I’ll see you in the A” to the Knicks players while walking off the Madison Square Garden court.

That taunt grew some laughs, ire, and even some clapbacks from Knicks players on Twitter.

Two games later, it’s clear Young wasn’t kidding. He and the rest of his Atlanta teammates defended ‘The A’ with two landslide wins. Now the Hawks sit just one win away from the second round. Consequently, New York will need to rattle off three straight wins to survive and advance.

With their backs against the wall, the Knicks will need to search each and every option in order to give their all to come back down 3-1. One interesting idea could be adding a player to the rotation that Tom Thibodeau has cut short since beginning the postseason.

Typically, Thibodeau has only played a nine-man roster, with Derrick Rose replacing Elfrid Payton in the starting lineup. Payton has been benched since game two and Nerlens Noel’s minutes have significantly decreased.

In the past two games, the Knicks have started Derrick Rose, Reggie Bullock, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Taj Gibson. Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley have headed up the bench.

This has left multiple regular-season rotation players out to dry in the playoffs, with Elfrid Payton has perhaps the most surprising, given he was a regular starter. The two other available players are Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina.

There’s no one right solution, but Thibodeau can’t go wrong with either of the three.

Payton, Knox, and Ntilikina have all given enough throughout the season that makes me think they could at least help the lack of depth and potentially play well enough to give the New York Knicks an extra boost. They’ve also all had plenty of chances to prove themselves in the regular season and haven’t, which is why they’re in the position they’re in right now.

The main positive point for implementing one of Payton, Knox, or Ntilikina into the lineup going forward against Atlanta is to counter the Hawks’ tiring style of play. Trae Young doesn’t stop moving and the sharp-shooting trio of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, and Kevin Huerter have all hit shots to a tea during the series.

The Hawks aren’t running a 12-man roster, but at times it seems that they have fresher legs and more options than the New York Knicks. Obviously, the defensive mindset and lowly offensive style of the Knicks can make it seem this way. But the frustration brewing from New York players has translated to more than just missed shots.

Players have favored arguing with referees instead of getting back on defense. Defensive effort as a whole has dropped some. And with the lack of offensive output, what could hurt in giving one of these guys another try?

Can the switch really change the series in the Knicks’ favor?

At this point, any change to the lineup can’t hurt. Obviously, whatever funk the New York Knicks are in right now needs some type of flavor added.

Could this flavor be a change in minutes, defensive schemes, or another switch in the starting lineup, it’d be hard to doubt Tom Thibodeau. With their backs against the wall, any change would be welcomed.

The addition of a new player for even a few minutes each half could affect the Hawks’ gameplan and possibly switch the series momentum to the New York Knicks. The Knicks will try whatever they can to get it done against Atlanta in game five. This is just one possible way to turn it into a win.

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