The Atlanta Hawks have been one of the most uplifting stories of the NBA postseason this year. After knocking off the New York Knicks and the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, the Hawks went on the road and dealt a blow to the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night.
Trae Young showed that he wasn't afraid of the moment in the series opener in Fiserv Forum as he led his team to a 116-113 victory. The 22-year-old point guard exploded for
and a highlight reel that will make the whole family blush. pic.twitter.com/LCP5CWmhlf
— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) June 24, 2021
">48 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists on 17-of-34 shooting in just 41 minutes on the floor.
The performance from Young put him in elite postseason company. He scored or assisted on 72 of the Hawks 116 points and became just the third player, 22 years of age or younger, to score 30+ points seven times in a single postseason.
Atlanta's point guard is oozing confidence and his fierce mentality has spread to the rest of the team. John Collins added 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Kevin Huerter continued his impressive playoff run by chipping in an additional 13 points.
Considering where the Hawks sat earlier on this season in the Eastern Conference, this postseason tear is even more magical. When Atlanta fired Lloyd Pierce on March 1, the team was the 11th seed, with a 14-20 record.
But interim head coach Nate McMillan turned things around and sent the Hawks storming into the postseason, where they've looked like a team that's been there before. Considering Atlanta only had a few nationally televised games this year, fans have been shocked at the poise and maturity that the group has shown.
After Wednesday's Game 1 win, it's difficult to see these Hawks slowing down anytime soon.
The Bucks and head coach Mike Budenholzer will need to make defensive adjustments against Young before Game 2 on Friday night. The Hawks point guard torched Milwaukee's bigs, including former Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo, on high screen-and-roll actions, leading to easy buckets and open three's. Budenholzer has been on the receiving end of criticism throughout this postseason for his unwillingness to make changes on defense, but Young may have finally given him the kick he needs to do so.
The Hawks will look to steal Game 2 on the road against the Bucks on Friday evening. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on TNT.