Hawks know intensity will pick up in Game 2 vs. Knicks

New York Knicks' Frank Ntilikina (right) guards Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young during the second half of Game 1 of first-round playoff series, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. The Hawks won 107-105. (Seth Wenig/AP)

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New York Knicks' Frank Ntilikina (right) guards Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young during the second half of Game 1 of first-round playoff series, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. The Hawks won 107-105. (Seth Wenig/AP)

With some last-second heroics by Trae Young, the Hawks came away victorious vs. the Knicks in Game 1 Sunday.

ExploreNew York cusses out Trae Young — and he thrives

It wasn’t a perfect performance, with the Knicks’ bench having ample success (including 18 points from Alec Burks in the fourth quarter) and the Hawks giving up 13 offensive rebounds. The Hawks were able to limit Julius Randle, who had a rough shooting night (6-for-23 field goals, 2-for-6 from 3, 1-for-2 free throws for 15 points) and take Game 1, but they know Game 2 will be that much more intense and difficult to win, per interim coach Nate McMillan.

“We’re going to have to be better, a lot better, than we were in Game 1 to win Game 2,” McMillan said. “And this will continue throughout the series.”

Game 2 will take place at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in New York. After that, the Hawks will gain homecourt advantage, with Game 3 happening at 7 p.m. Friday and Game 4 at 1 p.m. Sunday, both at State Farm Arena in Atlanta (in front of a near-capacity crowd, at that).

The main thing McMillan expects in Game 2, with a rowdy Madison Square Garden crowd of about 15,000 likely to become even rowdier, is more intensity from New York on both ends of the floor. And the Hawks have to be at that same level.

“We expect the intensity to go up a lot in Game 2,” McMillan said. “We have to bring the intensity. We expect them to be even more aggressive in their play and I expect our guys to do the same thing. The intensity definitely is going to go up in Game 2. We have to be ready for that.”

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New York Knicks fans cheer during Game 1 of first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Credit: Seth Wenig

New York Knicks fans cheer during Game 1 of first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Credit: Seth Wenig

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New York Knicks fans cheer during Game 1 of first-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in New York. (Seth Wenig/AP)

Credit: Seth Wenig

Credit: Seth Wenig

As far as what the Hawks can do better in Game 2, in addition to giving up 13 offensive rebounds (which led to 17 second-chance points), the Hawks also surrendered 50 points in the paint (to be fair, they scored 50 points in the paint themselves, as well) in Game 1.

They had just six turnovers, though, and taking care of the ball was critical.

“I thought we did some good things and there’s some things we need to clean up. ... There’s some things we need to do a better job (of) on the defensive end of the floor as well as the offensive end of the floor,” McMillan said. “I was really happy with us taking care of the ball. But there were some kick-outs and some plays that we can be better on.”

One adjustment that’s likely coming from the Knicks’ side is figuring out how to try and limit Young, who sliced them up in Game 1. Young finished with a game-high 32 points and 10 assists for a double-double, falling three rebounds short of a triple-double with seven. He also had just two turnovers, went 9-9 from the line in the fourth quarter alone and hit the game-winner with 0.9 seconds to play.

“This is his first playoffs, so now it’s another level that he has to take his game to, and we’ve seen him in his first playoff game do some good things,” McMillan said. “So this will continue. New York is going to make some adjustments as far as how they defend him and this will happen throughout his career. And the good players, they find ways to continue to be productive when teams are scheming to defend him or take them out.”

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