The most intense first-round matchup in the NBA playoffs has been the New York Knicks versus the Atlanta Hawks.
There have been several anti Trae Young chants, a spitting incident, and of course boos.
Boos erupt as the Hawks take the floor. Knicks fans are undefeated.
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) May 26, 2021
Players have gone back and forth through the NBA media and Twitter.
All of this has been going on through two high energy, close games.
Game 1 was TYoung hitting the game-winner to steal home court from the Knicks.
Then Game 2 was a monumental comeback from the Knicks to at least split the first two games.
D-Rose (26 PTS) was dialed in as the Knicks leveled their series with the Hawks ♨️ pic.twitter.com/5Aca4a8T9w
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 27, 2021
This series has all the makings of an all-timer.
We are seeing a rivalry form right in front of us; something we don’t truly see anymore in the NBA.
Now we are heading to Atlanta.
It is going to be exciting to witness how the Hawks fans treat the Knicks (and probably Spike Lee).
The two leaders on these teams are Julius Randle of the Knicks and Young of the Hawks.
Both of whom are in their first ever playoffs.
They have both excelled tremendously, to the delight of their respective fanbases.
Who has the advantage in this series?
What team has the better leader?
Randle has brought back winning basketball to Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have gone from a bottom-tier organization to having home-court advantage in the first-round.
Randle has been the catalyst.
His talent was never in questioned during his time in the league.
The assumption was that he was a pretty good player that wouldn’t make an All-Star team.
Being the best player on a playoff team seemed unimaginable for Randle.
However, this season was different from all accounts.
✅ Led the Knicks to the playoffs
✅ And now, the Most Improved Player award winner
What a season for Julius Randle 👏 pic.twitter.com/NjQF8hARpY
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 25, 2021
He became a better playmaker and more efficient.
Randle truly worked on his game and became a better leader.
The Knicks never went on a big slump, or felt as though they were a fluke.
They established themselves as a playoff team with Randle as the leader.
Granted he has struggled through the first two games of the series, but he has still produced in other ways to help his team.
Randle is a great leader for a franchise that has not found a lot of success for several years.
New York loves the guy and look at him as their guy.
Being a leader is a new task for Randle, but he has been up for the challenge.
The newest villain in Knicks history is now Young.
He has been a thorn in their sides for the first two games.
A big chant toward Young was loud and in full force in Game 1.
That was until he responded and made the game-winning shot.
Silence was felt around the arena to his delight and even spoke about it post-game.
"Everybody's chanting F-U … It got real quiet at the end, and I wanted to hear those F-U chants again."
–Trae Young after winning Game 1 in MSG pic.twitter.com/W2zHCrWNeh
— ESPN (@espn) May 24, 2021
Young has been an amazing leader.
He is one that isn’t afraid to be the villain and chirp back.
Going back and forth with players and fans, all while playing great, is something that a leader truly does.
Reggie Miller did the same thing to the Knicks for most of his career.
Now it is Trae’s turn to torment them.
The Hawks know to jump on his back and go for the ride.
His leadership has been impeccable thus far.
The Hawks have a franchise guy that isn’t afraid to be the man at all times.
It will take until the conclusion of this series to decide who is truly the better of the two.