The Knicks survived against Boston on Sunday to clinch the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
They will face the Atlanta Hawks in the first round and will have home-court in that series.
Here are few things to know about Atlanta:
Since Nate McMillan took over as head coach, Atlanta has been one of the top teams in the East. The Hawks are 26-11 under McMillan, the highest win total in the conference.
They have the No. 8 offense in the league under McMillan (entering Sunday’s games). And they have the No. 8 net rating and No. 8 team field-goal percentage. since McMillan took over.
They have won 18 of their last 20 at home. The Knicks have obviously also been red hot. They finished the season winning 16 of their final 20 games. Entering Sunday, Atlanta ranked No. 3 in 3-point shooting since McMillan took over; the Knicks have the No. 2 3-point percentage in that span.
Getting home-court advantage may be significant for the Knicks. Atlanta had won 18 of their last 20 at home prior to their season-finale on Sunday against Houston.
Obviously, Trae Young has been a driving force behind Atlanta’s resurgence. Young is averaging 9.5 assists since McMillan took over. He’s also shooting 45% from the floor.
As noted above, the Hawks’ perimeter shooting has been strong since McMillan took over. Danilo Gallinari is hitting 46% of his 3-point attempts. John Collins is at 40 percent and Lou Williams is hitting 44.4% of his attempts since being traded to the Hawks.
So the Knicks’ defense — which has been strong all season — will be tested against the Hawks.
But the Hawks’ defense in the regular season has been below average. Even after McMillan took over, Atlanta ranked No. 16 in defensive efficiency.
If you believe the Knicks’ defense will be solid all series and their success hinges on their offense, this will make you feel optimistic.
Atlanta will certainly key on Julius Randle. It will be interesting to see which other Knicks — RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose, Reggie Bullock, Alec Burks — complement Randle on offense throughout the series.