The New York Knicks are set for their first playoff appearance in eight years and their top star Julius Randle wasn't interested in speaking how far the team could go in the postseason. On Sunday, the Knicks beat the Boston Celtics to lock up the No.
4 seed and set up a first round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks. "It didn't matter then and it doesn't matter now," said Randle after finishing with 20 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 rebounds in Sunday's win over the Celtics.
"People really didn't believe in us at the start of the season ... it's about what we believe in the locker room." The Knicks needed to beat the Celtics to clinch the No. 4 seed. The Celtics rested their starters but still pushed hard the Knicks as New York claimed a tight 96-92 win.
"Hey look, the bottom line is getting a win," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said, when asked if his team took its undermanned opponent lightly. "We talked about it before the game. If you're in the NBA you're a great player.
And so they pose a lot of problems. They played a terrific game, which I knew they would. They're a well-coached team. And no matter who you're playing against, you have to play for 48 minutes."
The Knicks ready for a tough Hawks matchup
The Knicks have beaten the Hawks three times this season but their coach insists it means nothing.
"That means nothing going into the playoffs," Thibodeau said. "So the regular season is the regular season. When you play those games there are a lot of things that go into it. There could be players out. There could be travel involved.
"We know how well they're playing. They've gotten a lot better as the season has gone on. So we're going to have to be ready. We're going to have to play a 48-minute game." Randle, who came to the league in 2014, is set for his first playoff appearance.
"Extremely," Randle said, when asked if he was ready for the playoffs. "The way I prepare from game to game I don't think my habits are going to change. I think I do a good job of preparing myself to play on a night-to-night basis and it will be the same thing [for the playoffs]."
RJ Barrett, who was selected by the Knicks with No. 3 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, accomplished his goal of leading the team to a playoff appearance. "It feels amazing, especially doing it with a group of guys who were here last year through some tough times," Barrett said.
"We were able to turn the program around and we have a bunch of new pieces. That's really what it is -- how we worked hard and nobody really gave us a shot but we're here. "We brought Knicks fans what they want -- brought them back to the playoffs.
But before I got drafted, this is what I envisioned. This is what I wanted to do. I've always said I'm a winner. I had a feeling I'd be part of multiple teams that will get to the playoffs."