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NBA Free Pick | Hawks at Knicks


It’s the one series in the Eastern Conference that oddsmakers are unsure of. Both Atlanta and New York are given -110 odds to advance to Round 2. So who wins Game 1 on Sunday?

If the regular season series has anything to do with it, there is a clear-cut favorite. The key in Game 1, and the rest of the series for that matter, likely comes down to the play of the Knicks’ Julius Randle.


Game: Atlanta Hawks (41-31, 39-32-1 ATS) at New York Knicks (41-31, 45-26-1 ATS)

When: 7:00 PM ET, Sunday, May 23, 2021

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

Current Line: NYK -1            Total: 215

TV Coverage: TNT

Can He Shoulder the Load?

In three games this season, Randle averaged 37.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists. The Knicks won all three games and covered the spread in all three. Surprisingly, New York was an underdog in all three regular season games. 

The Knicks finished the regular season as the NBA’s best team against the spread with a record of 45-26-1. Favored by a single point at home in Game 1, it will be hard not to back the Knicks.

Consider how well New York has played at home this season. The Knicks went 25-11 at Madison Square Garden this season. At home, New York was 22-13-1 ATS, but taking it a step further the Knicks were a league-best 13-4 ATS when playing at home as the favorite.

Spreading it Around

While Randle is the key for New York, the Knicks are not a one-man show. R.J. Barrett averages 17.6 points a game and Derrick Rose has been outstanding over the latter half of the season. Rose is averaging just shy of 15 points per game and scored 24-points-plus in four of six games late in the season.

Need another freebie? Check out our Celtics at Nets betting preview and pick.

The other key for the Knicks is head coach Tom Thibodeau’s defense. The Knicks finished No.1 in a number of defensive statistical categories, most importantly points allowed per game. New York gave up 104.7 points per game, a full two points better than the No. 2 Los Angeles Lakers.

The Knicks were No. 1 in opponent shooting percentage (44.0%) which is going to come into play in Game 1 (and the series) as New York must defend Atlanta’s Trae Young. The Hawks point guard is one of the more dynamic creators in the league. Young averaged 25.3 points and dished out 9.4 assists a game this season.

Hawks at Knicks NBA Free Pick

In the three games against the Knicks this year, Young played well. After looking at the NBA basketball scores, you’ll see he had 31 points and 14 assists in the first game, 23 and 8 in the second, and then missed the fourth quarter and overtime in the third game. He finished with 20 points and 14 assists.

In each of those three games, the Hawks were down at least one key player. That could be the case again on Sunday as Danillo Gallinari, Clint Capela, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, and Kris Dunn are all listed as questionable.

Regardless, the Knicks are at home in a playoff Game 1 for the first time in a while. They have the best player in the series and a defense that can defend the Hawks three-point shooters. Take the Knicks to win Game 1 by at least a bucket to cover. Do some line shopping for this one, I’ve seen the line vary at online sportsbooks.


Coach had the Trail Blazers in the race to 20 points in his last pick, go check out his Trail Blazers at Celtics free pick.

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