After a breathtaking season, the New York Knicks managed to secure the 4th seed and their first ticket to the playoffs since 2013. However, the majority of the roster has very little experience in the playoffs. Now, 1-0 down to the Hawks and a very mediocre game from the three Knick stars, the big question must be asked. How much will this lack of playoff experience really impact them?
Why it Will Impact Them
The playoffs are evidently more intense than the regular season. Teams start to pick up their aggressiveness and things begin to click. To really compete within the best, having experienced being within the final 8 of your conference is almost necessary. However, the Knicks really lack this. Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, and Reggie Bullock are the five who have made it to the playoffs. While this number isn’t terrible, it’s fairly low down the list of teams with experience in the playoffs.
We’ve already seen that Julius Randle was very shaky and unnerved in his playoff debut Sunday. Shots simply weren’t falling and Atlanta paid lots of attention to the star forward to ensure every bucket he got was earned. In the playoffs, every game will be similar to the most recent. Julius Randle won’t have as much freedom on the court and the Knicks will be forced to adjust. While the Knickerbockers did well in staying level with Trae Young and the Hawks throughout the game, it’s difficult to really depend on players like Alec Burks to deliver 18 points in the fourth quarter alone every game. RJ Barrett looked stagnant as well at times. While he was still able to get into his rhythm at different points during the game, Knicks fans didn’t see his usual aggressive self on Sunday.
Why it Won’t Affect Them
In early April, Reggie Bullock touted the Knicks succeeded because they were “The Big 15”. This is still true today as New York relies on strong performances from everyone who steps on the court every game. In the playoffs, this can mean that the slack can be taken off Randle. Although it may be a significant boost to have the all-star playing well, the Knicks can still get wins as a team without him.
Additionally, the Knicks are playing the Hawks, who don’t have significant playoff experience either. Their star, Trae Young hadn’t played a playoff game up until Sunday night. In this matchup, the Knicks may not need the experience to make it through. Simply hitting their shots and continuing to play aggressive basketball will. It’s difficult to really say how Julius Randle will perform throughout the rest of the series as well. One can make the point that this isn’t about being nervous during the playoffs and the underlying issue is his inability to pick up form after long breaks. Fans saw this after the all-star break where he didn’t look like himself for the preceding week. Ultimately, one bad game shouldn’t bring a worry to Knicks fans here. Julius Randle has the opportunity to redeem himself in a massive game 2 at the Mecca tonight.
In the end, it will inevitably impact the Knicks in some way. They already took some punches in the first game and may look shaky as well tonight. However, Tom Thibodeau’s side is adaptable and the Knicks simply cannot be ruled out because of their lack of experience. A tough test awaits them tonight and will help fans see if they simply went through one rough game or if these Knicks just aren’t ready for the playoffs yet.