The Atlanta Hawks were four games under .500 on the road during the regular season but stole Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series at the New York Knicks thanks to the late-game heroics of Trae Young in his playoff debut. Young is given an Over/Under of 25.5s point for Wednesday's Game 2 at Madison Square Garden, and bettors may want to consider the Over after Young was called out by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Knicks are 2-point favorites even though they may not have starting center Nerlens Noel.
Young, who was pretty clearly the biggest All-Star snub in the regular season, made the winning runner in the lane with 0.9 seconds left as Atlanta pulled off the minor 107-105 upset Sunday. Young was the best player in Game 1 without question, putting up 32 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. He became the second player in NBA history with at least 30 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in his postseason debut, joining LeBron James. Considering Young is listed at 6-foot-1, which might be generous, the seven rebounds were a surprise as he averaged 3.9 during the season.
The 2018 No. 5 overall pick (remember, by Dallas but then traded to Atlanta for Luka Doncic and a 2019 first-round pick) definitely was having fun yapping at the very raucous and star-studded Garden ground after hitting the winner.
During an announcement Tuesday laying out a vaccine drive that allows New Yorkers to get vaccinated at Madison Square Garden for an opportunity to win Knicks tickets, de Blasio, wearing a Knicks cap, went on a rather strange rant about how foul-hunting is not actual basketball:
"Trae Young, on behalf of the people in New York City, and anyone who cares about actually playing basketball the right way, stop hunting for fouls, Trae. … I want to quote Steve Nash — great player, great coach. He says 'That's not basketball.' Trae. Trae. That Hawk's not going to fly in New York City. Come on. Play the game the right way. See if you can win. I think the Knicks are going to teach you a lesson."
De Blasio might have been referring to an earlier play Sunday where Young slowed down while dribbling was fouled from behind. Young attempted nine free throws in the opener, making all of them. The Hawks only got to the line 12 times, while the Knicks did 15 times.
Young is going to use that quote as motivation, without question. He averaged 25.3 points overall during the season and 24.7 points in three games vs. New York.
As for Noel, if it were a meaningless regular-season game, he might miss it but everyone expects him to play despite the questionable tag with a minor ankle injury. He left in the fourth quarter Sunday after playing 24 minutes and finishing with six points, three rebounds and two blocks. Noel is a key piece to that top-ranked New York defense but does little offensively. The Knicks were outscored by three points with him on the court in the opener.
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