Randle, Harden the keys for a playoff run in New York


New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) shoots the ball over Boston Celtics forward Jabari Parker (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (Vincent Carchietta/Pool Photo via AP)

NEW YORK — James Harden was the final piece to a Big Three.

Julius Randle is an unquestioned No. 1.

Their status may not be the same, but there’s no difference in what their teams need for there to be a deep playoff run — or two of them — in New York. Randle is ready for his challenge, as the Knicks face Atlanta in their return to the postseason for the first time since 2013.

Though the Nets became a championship contender when Harden joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, they have been a mostly mediocre team without Harden.

The Knicks open their series with the Hawks Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

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