Trae Young leads Atlanta Hawks to victory over Milwaukee Bucks

Trae Young scored 48 points as the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-113 in the opening game of the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals.

For a minute, Travis Schlenk’s 2018 draft-night decision to trade Luka Doncic for Trae Young, and the future lottery pick that became Cam Reddish, had the makings of an all-time blunder. That wasn’t a knock on Young, who was an All-Star in his second season and made it obvious early in his rookie season that he was going to be a really good player. It’s just that Doncic was almost immediately one of the best players in the world.

Almost exactly three calendar years later, Doncic still hasn’t gotten the Mavericks out of the first round while Young has the Hawks up 1-0 on the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals. That, in turn, isn’t a knock on Doncic, who still has a legit claim as one of the five best players in the world and simply isn’t working with the supporting cast Schlenk has constructed around Young. This is merely to say: The Hawks, just to put this narrative that won’t die to bed for at least a while, are pretty damn thrilled with how this has all turned out.

Young absolutely blistered the Bucks in Game 1 on Wednesday to the tune of a career-high 48 points. The Hawks also scored 24 points off his 11 assists. Do the math, and Young just did something no player in NBA history has ever done in a conference finals game.

The Bucks missed five late shots as the Hawks come from four points down to win.

Clint Capela put the Hawks 112-111 ahead with 29.8 seconds left and Young then netted four late free throws to shock the hosts.

Game two in the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Friday in Milwaukee.

Young had 11 assists while Capela and John Collins also recorded double-doubles for the Hawks. Capela had 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds, while Collins added 23 points and 15 rebounds.

For the

Atlanta tops Philadelphia in Game 7 to advance to Eastern Conference finals

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 103-96 on Sunday to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015. The Game 7 loss sent the No. 1 seed home early after one of the most bitterly disappointing series losses in recent memory. The 76ers blew enormous leads in Games 4 and 5, and now, they’ve blown the series as well.

As he has throughout the series, Joel Embiid led the charge for the 76ers on the offensive end of the floor as he finished with a team-high 31 points to go along with 11 rebounds. On the other side, Trae Young struggled mightily finding his shot in this one but Kevin Huerter picked up the slack in a major way, finishing with 27 points. While the Sixers were favored entering the matchup, it was Atlanta that was able to finish the job and knock off the top seed in Game 7.

With the win, the Hawks advance on to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals with Game 1 of that series scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET at Fiserv Forum. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 7.

1. Sorry Simmons

Ben Simmons’ night, and really, his series, can be encapsulated by a single moment. With 3:30 left in the fourth quarter and his team trailing by two, Simmons spun around Danilo Gallinari and had a wide open dunk sitting there for him. This is what he did.

Whether it was a fear of being fouled and having to take free throws or simply a poor decision, we can’t say. But Matisse Thybulle missed one of the free throws generated by that poor decision. That’s a free point down the drain. Simmons gave up plenty of them. He attempted only four shots in this game and 45 in the series. More distressingly, he took only three shots in the fourth quarter in seven games against the Hawks. Ironically, he made all of them.

It’s hard not to think of all …

Trae Young, Atlanta survive Game 1 after Joel Embiid, Philly storm back late

The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks tipped off their second-round series at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon after both teams made short work of their opening-round opponents. If Game 1 was any indication, the series promises to be a lot tougher for both teams. The Hawks ultimately pulled out a 128-124 victory, but it was far from easy for them.

After dominating the first 24 minutes of the contest and taking a 20-point lead into halftime, the Hawks had their hands full in the second half as the Sixers made a furious comeback to cut the lead all the way down to three in the closing minutes of the contest. Despite being outscored 70-54 in the second half, Atlanta was able to hold on for the win, though coach Nate McMillan likely won’t be happy with his team’s play down the stretch of the game.

 

Just as he did against the New York Knicks in the first round, Trae Young led the way for Atlanta, especially early on. Young lit the Sixers up for 25 points and seven assists in the first half alone, and finished the game with 35 points and 10 assists. In the process, Young became the first Hawks player ever to record 35 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. He also got some major help from John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanović, as that duo combined for 42 points and eight rebounds.

One huge question regarding the series was answered before Game 1 even started: Would Joel Embiid play? He did, despite suffering a small tear in his meniscus against the Wizards. Embiid started for the Sixers, played a game-high 38 minutes and scored a game-high 39 points to go along with nine rebounds, four assists and three blocks. While Sixers fans were certainly happy to see him out on the floor, his production wasn’t quite enough to help Philadelphia pull out a win in this one.

Even though they almost gave it away at the end, the Hawks have to feel …

Trae Young Silences the New York Knicks in MSG

What the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young did in silencing the New York Knicks and their raucous fans in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series Sunday was that second, much louder kind.

When a visiting player takes over down the stretch not just of any game but of the first playoff game he’s ever played … when the building in which he does that isn’t just any arena but Madison Square Garden … when the crowd being quieted isn’t just pent up from 15 months of a global pandemic but eight years of postseason drought, that’s more than just an index-finger-held-up-to-the-lips moment.

The Hawks’ unflappable point guard broke out the muzzles and the duct tape, too, against the 15,000 fans so boisterously stirring echoes of Knicks playoff thrillers past.

Catching the ball in the backcourt with 9.8 second left in a game tied at 105-105, Young pushed forward, veered to the right around New York’s Taj Gibson and Frank Ntilikina, evaded Reggie Bullock as he pinched in from the wing and tossed up a floater that dropped at the 0.9-second mark.

Trae Young says ‘it got real quiet in here’ after his game-winning floater to beat the Knicks in Game 1.

Young earned the chance to respond in pantomime to fans who, many of them by his telling, weren’t just vocal but vulgar. Hey, it’s New York, right?

“I don’t know, I’ve always looked at it as I’m doing something right if I’m affecting them with my play that much,” Young said after scoring 32 points with seven rebounds and 10 assists. “Fans can only talk. They can’t guard me. They’re not out there playing. For me, it’s just a part of the game.

“As I hit the floater, it felt like everybody got quiet.”

In that instant, Young became the first player to hit a game-winner in the final five seconds of his postseason debut since the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade in 2004.

Said Atlanta teammate John Collins, whose shot at setting a screen for Young ended