One area in which the Hawks have zapped Julius Randle’s productivity is out of the post-up.
During the regular season, the Knicks lefty power forward recorded post-ups on 17 percent of his possessions. According to Synergy and confirmed by scouting guru Nick Hauselman, who analyzes NBA film for BBall Breakdown website, Randle has just two recorded post-ups in the first four games — none in Game 4.
A post-up is only recorded if Randle either shoots from a post-up position or his pass from a post-up position results in a shot attempt.
Hauselman said Randle has had the ball down low but nothing of note materializes.
“Here’s what’s happening — they’ll post him up every so often, the Hawks immediately have a second defender there so he gets rid of [the ball],” Hauselman said. “The possession ends without it being related to the post-up as multiple passes ensue. So it’s not charted as a post-up. This is crazy stuff.’’
Randle entered Sunday’s Game 4 averaging just 14.3 points. On Sunday, he scored 23 points with seven assists and 10 rebounds, but he shot just 6 of 18 and committed five turnovers.
Randle averaged 37 points versus the Hawks in the regular-season series. The league’s Most Improved Player, though, has improved each game, according to coach Tom Thibodeau.
“I think what Julius did in the regular season made [the Hawks] make a commitment to overload on him, and I thought he got on track with some good decisions in the last game,’’ Thibodeau said after Monday’s practice. “When you look at playoff basketball, there’s an intensity and focus to it because you’re playing the same team over and over again. There’s no back-to-backs. This is Julius’ first experience in the playoffs, and I think each game he has gotten better, and it will continue to get better.’’
Thibodeau gave no indication he was moving away from starting Derrick Rose at point guard a third straight game over banished Elfrid Payton.
The Knicks coach was also asked whether it’s time to spring Frenchman Frank Ntilikina against Atlanta’s star point guard Trae Young. Ntilikina played one defensive possession in Game 4 and three defensive possession all series.
“I think Derrick is proven to be a very good player in this league for a long time,’’ Thibodeau said. “As a team we have to play better. We know that. In terms of Frank, he’s an important part of the team.”
Hawks coach Nate McMillan on leading 3-1: “It’s do or die for New York, we know that, they know that, and they’re going to come out with their best effort. We’re going to have to come up with our best in order to end this. This will be the toughest game.’’