The New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks continue their spirited series on Saturday in Atlanta, with each team entering the game going in different directions.
The Knicks are coming off a 108-85 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. New York has won two straight and seven of its last 10.
Atlanta gave up a seven-point fourth-quarter lead and dropped a 124-118 decision to the Miami Heat on Friday. The Hawks have lost four in a row and eight of their last 10. The Hawks are 3 1/2 games outside the final playoff spot, currently held by New York.
This will be the third meeting between the teams this season, with New York winning both previous games. Atlanta’s Trae Young missed the second game because of COVID-19. The Knicks have won six straight regular-season games against the Hawks, though Atlanta defeated New York in five games in the first round of the playoffs last season.
New York’s RJ Barrett has been on a hot streak. He scored 32 points against the Mavs and, at age 21, became the youngest Knick to post back-to-back 30-point games. His effort against Dallas helped New York reach the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 7.
“I think we’re going to find success if we continue to do the little things and just continue to work and be consistent throughout the rest of the season,” Barrett said. “As long as we do that, we’ll put ourselves in a good position.”
The teams made a swap with each other on Thursday. The Hawks traded Cam Reddish to the Knicks in exchange for Kevin Knox and a 2022 protected first-round pick.
Reddish was Atlanta’s No. 1 draft pick and No. 10 overall in the 2019 draft. He has been hampered by injuries throughout his career, most recently an ankle sprain. In 34 games this season he is averaging 11.9 points and 2.5 rebounds.
Knox was the ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft. After starting 57 games as a rookie, when he averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds, Knox fell out of favor. He has played only 13 games this season and is averaging 3.6 points and 1.7 rebounds.
“This gives us two, three weeks before the trade deadline to see if a small tweak does kind of change the trajectory of the season,” Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk said. “By doing this early, it gives us that little runway to evaluate.”
Reddish approached Schlenk during the offseason about being traded to a team with whom he could enjoy a bigger role.
“He’s a super-high talent,” Schlenk said. “We all see that. But we’re trying to blend the team together, as well. … He could certainly go on and have an all-star caliber career and I wouldn’t be shocked at all by that. … I completely understand where New York is coming from. If I was New York and I had three first-round draft picks the way they did and you look at Cam Reddish’s potential, I get that.”
Reddish will not play against his former team Saturday, however. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said Reddish will be out “a while” because of a sprained ankle.