RJ Barrett's production creates some optimism as Knicks head into critical Game 5

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RJ Barrett goes for layup vs. Hawks in Game 4 of First Round
RJ Barrett goes for layup vs. Hawks in Game 4 of First Round

The Knicks were dominated by the Hawks, especially in the second half, during the 113-96 loss in Game 4 of the First Round on Sunday. And while there weren’t many good lights shed on New York in this one, RJ Barrett was one of the exceptions with his solid play.

After struggling to get going offensively earlier in the series, this game for the sophomore guard is what head coach Tom Thibodeau wanted to see. Barrett said he was told to be aggressive, and it paid off.

“Always confident. Always confident no matter what,” he told reporters via Zoom. “I was just aggressive, coach told me to be aggressive. I was able to do that. Just want to get a win.”

Barrett dropped 21 points for New York on an efficient 8-for-15 shooting, including 2-for-6 from three. He also contributed with six boards, four assists and two steals on the defensive end.

But, like Barrett said, the Knicks only care about the win at the end of the day. Now, they must win in Game 5 if they wish to stay alive in the playoffs.

To do so, Barrett knows his Knicks must stop the Hawks’ stretches of solid shooting that have hurt New York bad the last two games.

“Last game, I think it was second quarter,” Barrett said. “Today, it was the third quarter. We just gotta fight. 48 minutes, we got to play hard and we can’t let them go on those runs.”

Julius Randle is someone the Knicks need to play better in Game 5 and beyond, if needed. But Barrett’s production in Game 4 is a welcome sign that the Knicks could get the job done in Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

“Just played hard, didn’t really think about it,” Barrett said about his play on Sunday. “Kinda just played – I know how to play basketball. Like I said, coach told me to be aggressive and be myself. So I did.”