Atlanta third-year guard Trae Young made the most of his postseason debut Sunday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out 10 assists compared to only two turnovers.
Young’s go-ahead floater in the lane with 0.9 seconds lefts lifted Atlanta to a 107-105 win over the Knicks as a one-point road favorite. The Hawks covered the spread, while the 212 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 213.5-point total.
For Game 2 at MSG tonight, most betting shops had New York (41-32 straight up, 45-27-1 against the spread) listed as a two-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 212.5 (as of late this morning). Nate McMillan’s club was +110 on the money line.
Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 18 points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists compared to just one turnover. He drained 4-of-9 attempts from downtown, including a tying trey with 55 seconds remaining.
After getting a stop, Atlanta (42-31 SU, 40-32-1 ATS) went in front 105-103 with 28.6 ticks left on a pair of free throws from Young. Derrick Rose countered with a mid-range runner to knot the score at 105-105 with 9.8 seconds left.
During Atlanta’s timeout, New York head coach Tom Thibodeau elected to insert Frank Ntilikina into the game to defend Young even though he hadn’t touched the court all night. Young took the inbounds pass and after taking a couple of dribbles, the Knicks brought a double team.
But Young blew past both defenders to his right to get into the lane and silence the raucous crowd — one that hadn’t enjoyed a Knicks postseason game since 2013 and was at full capacity for the first time since the pandemic — with the game-winning bucket.
John Collins had 12 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal for the Hawks, who have now won five consecutive games and eight of their last nine. They’re on a 6-3 ATS run.
Clint Capela added nine points, 13 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Lou Williams only logged 12:43 of playing time, but he produced 13 points and two assists without a turnover on 6-of-9 shooting from the field.
Trailing 66-63 with less than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, New York took its first lead since early in the first quarter with a 10-0 run to go ahead by seven.
However, Williams ended the Atlanta drought by burying a 15-foot jumper. After a steal by Danilo Gallinari, Williams hit a big triple with 4.2 seconds remaining to slice the deficit to two at 73-71. Williams ended his 7-0 run to tie the game with the opening bucket – a driving layup – of the final stanza.
Another key sequence came with 4:13 remaining, as Young dished to Capela for an alley-oop dunk to get Atlanta’s deficit down to two. Next, ‘Bogi’ drained a 3-pointer for a one-point Hawks’ advantage. Then after getting a stop, De’Andre Hunter connected from the top of the key to put Atlanta ahead by four.
It was a clutch shot by Hunter, who missed 53 regular-season games due to a knee injury and is still rounding back into form after playing in three of his team’s last four regular-season contests. The basket should give Hunter’s confidence a boost and, perhaps more important, win McMillan’s trust to play him at critical moments.
Hunter was averaging better than 17 points per game when he injured the knee at Washington in late January. He’s the Hawks’ best perimeter defender who brings size and muscle (and winning experience with his national championship at Virginia) to the lineup.
Hunter told Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday that his knee “feels back to normal now,” although he wasn’t sure whether his minutes restriction would be lifted for tonight’s Game 2.
In the losing effort, New York’s Alec Burks turned in a stellar performance from off the bench, scoring a team-best 27 points on 9-of-13 field-goal attempts and 3-of-5 shooting from long distance. Burks also hit 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Rose had 17 points, five boards, five assists, one steal and one block, while rookie RJ Barrett produced 14 points and 11 rebounds. Julius Randle, the team’s star, seemed to press the entire game. Randle made just 6-of-23 FGAs, finishing with 15 points, 12 rebounds and four assists compared to three turnovers.
Randle conceded in interviews Tuesday after he was issued the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award that it was difficult not to force things Sunday night because the crowd was so electric.
At various points in the game, chants of “Fu** Trae Young” erupted throughout the storied arena, which is why the star guard took such delight in hushing the packed house.
New York starting center Nerlens Noel is listed as ‘questionable’ tonight due to a right ankle sprain. Noel is averaging 5.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.2 blocked shots and 1.1 steals per game. He has served as an outstanding rim protector all year, especially since center Mitchell Robinson went down with a season-ending foot injury.
FanDuel has updated its series price to Atlanta -245 with the Knicks at +194 on the comeback. There’s also the option of taking the Hawks at -1.5 games to win the series at a -124 price. New York is +1.5 for a +102 return.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
–The number on Utah for tonight’s Game 2 is up to -9.5. The Grizzlies have won eight of their last nine games, and they’re an outstanding 17-5 ATS with 11 outright victories in their last 22 games as underdogs. Donovan Mitchell is expected to be on the court tonight for the first time since he suffered a severely sprained ankle on April 16. The Jazz have lost three of their last five games while going 2-4 ATS.
–I can’t believe Chris Paul is having to deal with another injury sustained in the playoffs. Paul missed most of the second half of last night’s Game 2 home loss to the Lakers dealing with shoulder pain caused by the injury suffered in Game 1. To be clear, Paul was willing to go and Phoenix head coach Monte Williams made the decision to sit him. When Paul had his best chance to make a deep run with the Clippers, he injured his thumb. When he was with the Rockets and they had a 3-2 lead on the Warriors in the West finals, an injury forced him out of the rest of that series. Now after leading the Suns to the No. 2 seed and their first trip to the playoffs in a decade, Paul now appears to be compromised for the rest of this seven-game set (although I’m sure we’ll see him out there).
–Washington improved to 21-6 ATS in its last 27 games by covering the spread in Sunday’s 125-118 loss at Philadelphia in the series opener. The Wizards led by one at the end of the first and second quarters, cashing first quarter and first half money-line tickets for +135 and +175 payouts, respectively. Washington is 3-0 ATS in three games played at Philadelphia this year.
–This is how much Luka Doncic was feeling it last night (!):
–The dude is shooting running fadeaway 3-balls off of one foot…in the playoffs! Dallas took a stunning 2-0 series lead with last night’s 127-121 win over the Clippers at Staples Center. The Mavericks hooked up money-line supporters with a +205 return. Doncic produced 39 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in another scintillating postseason performance. Tim Hardaway Jr., who is playing for a free-agent contract, did his wallet plenty of justice by dropping 28 points on the Clippers. The University of Michigan product drained 9-of-14 field-goal attempts and 6-of-8 from long distance.
–Dallas struggled to put the game away in the final stanza due to inept shooting from the charity stripe. The Mavs finished 13-of-24 from the FT line (54%), with Doncic only making 2-of-7 FTAs.
–FanDuel’s updated series price is Dallas -290, with the Clippers available at +225 on the comeback. Most spots have the Clippers as 1.5-point road favorites for Friday’s Game 3 at Dallas.
–Portland is a four-point home favorite for Thursday’s Game 3 vs. Denver. FanDuel has the Trail Blazers at -172 for the updated series price. The third-seeded Nuggets are +140 underdogs for the series.
–FanDuel has Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant as the +370 ‘chalk’ to win NBA Finals MVP honors. The Lakers’ LeBron James are at +500, followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo (+650), Joel Embiid (+750), Mitchell (+950), James Harden (12/1), Kyrie Irving (12/1), Doncic (16/1) and Kawhi Leonard (20/1).