NBA Playoffs Odds, Preview, Prediction for Knicks vs. Hawks Game 4: Does New York Have Answer for Trae Young? (May 30)
Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Trae Young.
- The Knicks face a potential 3-1 deficit on Sunday if they can't slow down Trae Young in Game 4 against the Hawks.
- New York couldn't contain Atlanta's hot shooting on the road in Game 3, with Young leading the way as a playmaker.
- Austin Wang breaks down where he sees betting value in Game 4 and whether bettors should back the Knicks as road underdogs.
Knicks vs. Hawks Odds
|Moneyline||+155 / -190|
|Time||Sunday, 1 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Saturday and via BetMGM|
The New York Knicks have exceeded expectations this season and been an amazing story in the Eastern Conference. That story is in danger of taking a very, very bad turn on Sunday afternoon. A loss would put them in a 3-1 hole against the Atlanta Hawks.
After the Knicks suffered a deflating Game 3 loss in Atlanta 105-94, there are several lingering questions in advance of Game 4. Will the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award-winner Julius Randle bounce back from a rough start to the series? Will the Knicks be able to steal a win in Atlanta, where the Hawks have the league’s best record against the spread (ATS)? How will the Knicks respond to the fearless Trae Young, who has excelled through the first three games?
The opening line for this game is Hawks -4.5, which is no different from Game 3’s closing line. The opening total is 209, a decrease of three points from the closing total of 212 in Game 3. The decrease was warranted since the total of the previous two games have failed to break 200.
See below for a breakdown of the game to see where the betting value lies.
Knicks Need Randle to Win This Series
The first two games at Madison Square Garden featured the rowdiest crowds all season. It was amazing to see and hear a full crowd back in New York City for an electrifying playoff atmosphere.
One player that has shrunk in the limelight is Randle, who has struggled all series and put up a dud in Game 3 with only 14 points on 2-for-15 shooting.
In our playoffs preview, I suggested Randle, who averages the most minutes played per game (37.6) in the NBA, could struggle due to fatigue. This is no surprise under Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has a history of overusing his best players throughout his coaching career.
Whether it’s fatigue, the mounting pressure of being the Knicks’ go-to guy or the Hawks’ defense, New York needs more production from Randle. If we see regular-season Randle return to form, the Knicks can win this game and potentially win the series.
Thibodeau switched up the starting lineup in Game 3, bringing in Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson to replace Elfrid Payton (to the joy of Knicks fans everywhere) and Nerlens Noel. I think this is the right move to start Rose, but New York’s bench loses some firepower to match up against the dangerous trio of Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams off Atlanta’s pine.
The Knicks boast the league’s fourth-best regular-season Defensive Rating (107.8) and really need to ramp up the intensity on that end to stop Young and Hawks. More importantly, on offense, they will need their young players to catch fire as Rose has been the only consistent contributor on that side of the ball.
More bad news for the Knicks: Underdogs of four or more points off a road loss in a playoff series are 23-42-2 ATS (35.4%) since the 2016-2017 season, per the Sports Data Query Language database.
Atlanta Riding Red-Hot Young
The Hawks have had a roller-coaster season that has featured a myriad of injuries and a surprising midseason head-coaching change. After Lloyd Pierce was relieved of his duties and Nate McMillan took over as head coach on March 1, the Hawks have gone 28-12 under McMillan with a 25-15-1 (60%) ATS record.
With a healthy roster at their disposal, the Hawks are an extremely deep squad that is even better than their regular-season numbers indicate.
The Atlanta Hawks did a fantastic job in Game 3 protecting their homecourt. The Hawks had the league’s best home ATS record at 23-13 (63.9%). Their offense looked a lot more efficient and sharp at home.
The Hawks went 16-for-27 (59%) from behind the arc and only turned the ball over 11 times in Game 3. Had it not been for the huge free throw discrepancy (30-8 in favor of New York), this game would not have been nearly as close.
Young was fantastic, showing his scoring prowess and playmaking abilities. He had 10 assists by halftime and finished with 14, throwing lobs to Capela, with whom he has shown great chemistry in the pick and roll, for a few alley-oops and finding his teammates for easy 3-point attempts.
The Knicks could go small-ball and have Randle play center, which could potentially present some difficulties for the Hawks since Capela would have to come out to the 3-point line to guard Randle. Offensively, though, I think it would create some easy baskets for Capela.
I expect the Hawks to encounter some regression from behind the 3-point line after their red-hot Game 3, but I’m not sure the Knicks have an answer for Young, who is by far the best player in this series. I see the Knicks’ defense doing a better job defending him moving forward, but he has a strong supporting cast backing him up.
Ultimately, the better bench and the home-court advantage are the main factors that veer me toward the Hawks in Game 4. My pick is Atlanta to cover the spread and take care of business at home. I make this line -6.5 and would play this up to -5.
Pick: Hawks -4.5 (up to -5)