The New York Knicks’ season came to a brutal end as they were knocked out of the NBA playoffs in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. After a hard-fought series, it all came down to a crucial decision in the final game, and unfortunately for the Knicks, it didn’t go their way.
The decision in question came with just under a minute left in the game and the score tied at 92-92. Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau decided to take out their star player, Julius Randle. This move was a surprise to many fans, as Randle had been the Knicks’ primary scorer throughout the series, and was likely their best chance of securing a win.
However, Thibodeau’s decision was based on the fact that Randle had not been playing well in the game. He had struggled to find his rhythm and was shooting just 5-of-23 from the field. Thibodeau believed that it was better to take him out and play a smaller lineup that would be more effective defensively.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, the decision backfired. The Hawks were able to capitalize on Randle’s absence and went on a 10-0 run to close out the game, securing a 103-89 victory and advancing to the second round.
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for the Knicks, who had exceeded expectations throughout the season. They had finished with a 41-31 record, their best since the 2012-13 season, and had made the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Randle, in particular, had been a driving force behind their success. He had proved himself to be one of the best players in the league, averaging 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 6 assists per game during the regular season. He was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player of the Year, and many fans and analysts believed he was a contender for the league’s MVP award.
However, his struggles in the playoffs were a reminder that even the best players can have off nights. And Thibodeau’s decision to take him out in the crucial final minutes of the game will likely be second-guessed for years to come.
Despite the bitter end to their season, there is reason for optimism for the Knicks. They have a talented young core, led by Randle, and a coach in Thibodeau who has shown he can get the best out of his players. With some smart offseason moves, they could be a force to be reckoned with in the years to come.
But for now, they will be left to ponder what might have been, had one late-game decision gone their way.