Down the stretch of New York’s first-round playoff game against the Atlanta Hawks in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd, Trae Young razzled and dazzled his way to the hoop for the game-winning floater with less than a second remaining in the game. After the bucket, Young promptly shushed the 15,000 strong in attendance, bringing back chilling memories of Reggie Miller’s choke game from 1994.
Trae Young spoils the Knicks’ playoff return to Madison Square Garden
At long last, the Knicks are back in the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Seven straight seasons of losing records and lottery picks finally led to some decent talent, and this year’s young squad is brimming with confidence at just the right time.
The Knicks secured the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference after a 41-31 regular season, setting up a date with the No. 5 seed Hawks in the first round of the postseason. Sunday’s Game 1 played out exactly how most Knicks games have gone over the past month — low-scoring and tight down the stretch.
With just under 10 seconds remaining in regulation, Derrick Rose hit a clutch floater to tie the game at 105 and send Madison Square Garden into a frenzy. Young, who everyone in the building knew would be taking the final shot for the Hawks, faced his first true test of stardom in his playoff debut, and he didn’t disappoint.
After receiving the inbounds pass near the half-court line, Young dribbled through his legs three times to shake his defender and get open for the game-winning floater.
Young shushes the MSG crowd after game-winner
After sinking the clutch shot with 0.9 seconds left in the game, Young immediately turned to the stunned Madison Square Garden crowd and put his right finger to his lips to shush the 15,000 in attendance. He then made a shivering motion as he walked back to the bench. Ice Trae really is that cold.
“As I hit the floater, it just felt like everybody got quiet,” Young said after the game. “I was waiting for them F-you chants again. I was excited.”
During the team huddle before Atlanta’s final possession, veteran Lou Williams told Young not to pass the ball. His confidence in the young star went a long way.
“I’m sure he’s dreamed of moments like that,” Williams said after the game. “Tie ball game in Madison Square Garden with an opportunity to win the game. You kind of trick yourself into thinking you gotta make a play. Hey man, go win the basketball game. This your team. These guys have put the franchise on your shoulders as well as the other young guys. You’re the ‘Point God,’ go win the basketball game.”
And that he did.
Knicks fans forced to relive their worst nightmare
As Young shushed the once-rowdy New York crowd after sinking the game-winner Sunday night, Knicks fans immediately had flashbacks of Miller’s choke game in the infamous 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. The Knicks went on to win the series against the Indiana Pacers, but Miller’s choke sign to superfan Spike Lee will forever be associated with any Knicks blunder.
The Knicks now have their new Reggie Miller.
“I definitely know the history of players coming in here and being hated,” Young said. “Like I said, I take that as a compliment, to be honest with you. Obviously, I’m doing something right if you hate me that much. I embrace it and try to focus on my team and trying to help my team win. At the end of the day, we’ll get the last laugh if we do that.”