Home crowd was ‘sixth man’ for Hawks as they take Game 3

Behind an excellent performance from Trae Young and hot 3-point shooting, the Hawks beat the Knicks 105-94 in Game 3 Friday at State Farm Arena, giving them a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.

ExploreMichael Cunningham: Trae Young is too much for Knicks

Game 4 is at 1 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Arena.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. Dialed in yet again, Young thrived, even with the Knicks blitzing him. Young finished with a double-double of 21 points and 14 assists, with just two turnovers. He and the Hawks settled down in the second quarter, after the Knicks went 13-for-13 from the line in the first quarter, and picked apart the opposition, outscoring New York 29-13. That held up as the big swing in the game. The Hawks controlled the pace and shot 66.7% from the field (making five 3′s) to the Knicks’ 25% in that period. The Knicks just didn’t have enough offensively to keep pace, and the Hawks took a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, in full control from the second quarter until the final buzzer.

“It felt like as the game was going, they were trying to take my scoring out of the game, and blitzing more and being a little bit more aggressive on me,” Young said. “For me, I’ve just got to find ways to score, whether it’s me getting downhill and scoring or finding the open man. And tonight, I needed to find the open man, because they were being so aggressive. It’s really just making the right reads.”

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

2. Equaling a franchise playoff record with 3-pointers (16-for-27, or 59.3%), the Hawks shot the lights out from beyond the arc. It was the ideal response after massively struggling shooting in the second half of their Game 2 loss, making three of 19 3-point attempts (15.8%). Danilo Gallinari went 4-for-4 from 3-point range (12 points), Bogdan Bogdanovic went 3-for-4 (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists), John Collins went 2-for-5 (14 points, six rebounds, two assists) and Young went 2-for-6. De’Andre Hunter went 1-for-1 (11 points, five rebounds, two assists, one block) and Lou Williams went 1-for-2 (nine points, two assists).

3. In the Hawks’ Game 2 loss, Young and Bogdanovic both sat for several minutes from the end of the third quarter until midway through the fourth, while the team fell into a 10-point hole. In Game 3, interim coach Nate McMillan staggered those two more, which kept more shooting and playmaking on the court at all times. He also played them a few more minutes: Young played about 37 and Bogdanovic played about 39 (both were limited to 35 in Game 2). “Trying to keep balance out on the floor, I studied the tape and made adjustments,” McMillan said. “... I just felt like I needed to make an adjustment with my rotations.”

4. With Julius Randle underperforming, the Knicks have put their offense on Derrick Rose’s back. It wasn’t enough to challenge for the lead, but Rose continues to be a huge threat both from the perimeter and getting to the rim, adding a game-high 30 points (13-for-21 field goals, 3-for-5 from 3-point range, 1-for-1 free throws) to go with six rebounds and five assists. So far, the Hawks have had success limiting Randle (14 points -- 10.1 under his season average), who entering the series it seemed would be the toughest to contain, with McMillan crediting Collins for his defensive efforts.

ExploreAJC photos from the Hawks' Game 3 victory

5. For the first time since March 11 of 2020, the day the league suspended last season due to COVID-19, the Hawks played in front of a roaring, packed building at State Farm Arena. They welcomed a near-capacity, sellout crowd of 15,743 Friday, with standing-room-only tickets sold as well (the only reason it wasn’t at full-on maximum capacity is the NBA mandates a few rows blocked off behind team benches). The environment was electric, and boosted the Hawks’ energy: “It was awesome,” said center Clint Capela (13 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, two blocks). “It’s been more than a year, a year and a half, I haven’t experienced that. So it really felt good, especially a playoff atmosphere like that, it was really our sixth man tonight. It was great to be on the court with that energy.”

Hawks 105, Knicks 94 (box score)

Stat of the game

44 (the Hawks bounced back with 44 points in the paint after just 28 in Game 2)

Star of the game

Young (continues to dominate the Knicks, with 21 points and 14 assists, adapting to whatever the defense throws at him)

Quotable

“We can’t relax right now. We are just up 2-1. And we have to close the series.” (Bogdanovic on the Hawks’ mindset in the series)