Knicks: 3 keys to getting back on track in crucial Game 4 vs. Hawks

Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Knicks have not played well in the 2021 NBA Playoffs and are facing a crucial Game 4 on the road. Here are three keys to getting back on track.

Down 2-1 in their first-round playoff series, the New York Knicks are facing a crucial Game 4 on the road on Sunday. After getting blown out 105-94 in Game 3 on Friday, the Knicks need to win their next game at State Farm Arena to steal back home-court advantage and tie up the series heading back to Madison Square Garden for Game 5.

However, after watching the first three games, it’s pretty clear the Knicks haven’t played to their fullest potential yet. Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks have a lot to do with that, but if New York can play its normal brand of basketball again, this 4-5 matchup will heat up again in a hurry.

Heading into a pivotal Game 4 in Atlanta, here are three keys for the Knicks to get things back on track.

3. Focus on stopping Bogdanovic

Even with a top-five defense, the Knicks are not going to stop Trae Young. They’re just not. The Hawks star is putting up 27.7 points and 10.3 assists per game on .484/.438/.941 shooting splits through the first three games, and even as he struggled shooting the ball against New York during the regular season, he still found a way to give them grief with 24.7 points and 12.0 assists per game. He’s a bad matchup, and legitimate stars step up in the playoffs. That’s what we’re witnessing here.

However, as much as Young has become an undeniable Knicks villain, Bogdan Bogdanovic has been an extra thorn in their side, putting up 17.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while posting a team-high point differential of +11.0. He’s been a consistent, silent killer for Atlanta.

New York may not have the personnel to lockdown Young because of his speed, ball-handling and shooting ability, but if this defense can clamp down on Bogdanovic, it will deprive the Hawks of their second-leading scorer, secondary playmaker and release valve for Young.

Atlanta has a lot of weapons and a lot of shooters on the perimeter, so this won’t be easy, and there will still be a lot to worry about on the defensive end. But if the Knicks can focus more of their attention on taking away Bogdanovic, they stand a better chance of making this a more competitive series.