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 Bucks, who were unbeaten in five home games in their first two series, Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 34 points and 12 rebounds while Jrue Holiday had 33 points and 10 assists.

Young’s most impressive stretch came after Antetokounmpo had given Milwaukee a 65-58 lead in the second minute of the third period.

Over the next eight minutes, he had two three-pointers, three two-pointers and three assists in a 28-13 flurry that turned the score 86-78 Atlanta’s way.

The Bucks chipped away, finally drawing even at 98-98 through Antetokounmpo with five minutes and 25 seconds to go – but it was the Hawks who held their nerve late on.

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