NEW YORK (AP) — Trae Young didn’t look like a postseason rookie in silencing a rocking road crowd in New York.
“The moment wasn’t too big for him,” Atlanta teammate Lou Williams said.
Nor for Ja Morant or Devin Booker, who were just as impressive in their debuts. Throw in Luka Doncic picking up where he left off last year, and the opening weekend of the playoffs may have proven that the time is now for some of the NBA’s best young guards.
“The great players, in every era, that’s what they do,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They pose problems.”
Booker and Doncic will be back in action Tuesday, hoping to send the two Los Angeles teams into 2-0 holes.
Phoenix beat the Lakers 99-90 on Sunday behind 34 points from Booker. In his sixth season, he's got much more NBA experience than Young, Morant or Doncic. But he's still only 24 years old, and no amount of regular-season games is preparation for LeBron James and the defending champions in the postseason.
Phoenix coach Monty Williams said Booker has worked on his game to be in this position.
“He trusts the work. I’ve always said this about Devin, he’s not afraid of the moment. He’s not afraid of these games," Williams said. “He actually wants to be in these games. That’s what I attribute it to -- his ability to focus and play the same way no matter the stage."
Deandre Ayton, who's only 22 years old, added 21 points and 16 rebounds while shooting 10-of-11 from the field in his playoff debut.