This was the first game in a while that New York started without center Mitchell Robinson, who is out for several weeks with an injured thumb. And the absence of Big Mitch was certainly felt from the opening tip, as the Hawks were getting whatever they want. Head coach Tom Thibodeau decided not to alter their standard drop defense, which relies so heavily on Mitch’s presence in the paint. Instead, he merely hoped that Jericho Sims and Isaiah Hartenstein could approximate Mitch’s production. News alert: they cannot.
Still, the Knicks led at halftime in a shootout thanks to some unsustainably hot shooting. They even managed to come back after Trae Young started the third quarter with his patented foul-baiting bullshit.
Alas, the Hawks were merely playing with the Knicks through three quarters. Atlanta coach Nate McMillan, who is apparently always on the verge of being fired, pulled the coup de grace on Thibs yet again by pulling out a zone defense in the fourth. The Knicks were flummoxed, as they always are, and the Hawks pulled away. Pathetic.
Stay tuned for more coverage from this one.