After a historic return to Philadelphia on Wednesday night, the Atlanta Hawks got just one victory in the Eastern Conference final. To their advantage, a rabid sold-out crowd at State Farm Arena was rooting in the home team. Their young star was going to shine, but ultimately the supporting cast couldn’t lift the required weight, and Philadelphia was able to secure a 104-99 victory to send the series to a Game 7.
The good in this game begins and ends with Trae Young’s stellar play all night long. Young finished with 34 points on a 13 for 30 shot, including 5 for 10 (50%) of three, and added 12 assists and 5 rebounds. When the team needed a bucket, he was apparently always there to deliver the score or the pass leading to the score.
History was also made in Young’s 11th career playoff game with a remarkable streak.
Trae Young has over 20 points and over 7 assists in 11 straight games, tied for the longest streak in NBA playoff history.
John Wall also did it from 2015 to 2017. pic.twitter.com/prRfhnEdQ7
– ESPN statistics and information (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 19, 2021
He started the game off with a number of forays into the lane, ending with a float or lob to Clint Capela like in this clip below.
Unlike the previous four games, the Hawks took a quick and decisive lead. A 20-8 start meant the home side were in control early, including seven of his first eight shots, and Trae Young was clearly a big reason why.
Young had 17 of the Hawks ‘first 37 points, and he was responsible for 35 of the Hawks’ first 51 points once by combining his score with the points accumulated directly from his assists.
Another clear point was the defensive anchor of this Hawks team, Capela. The center played a menacing defense, defying to the rim and opposing smaller players when called upon. Capela made a heroic effort – even in a loss – to defend without committing a foul. Namely, Atlanta accomplished this by allowing just three free kicks in the first three quarters.
But rookie Tyrese Maxey provided a huge boost to the 76ers by keeping Philadelphia in the game in the first half. His defensive energy, coupled with the disruptive timing of Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle, clearly made it difficult for the Hawks role player to get started and led to some transition buckets in the other direction.
However, the match was going to turn out in a huge way in the third quarter. The Sixers came out of halftime with four triples and a 12-0 run to take the lead. 59-51, with three of the long bombs courtesy of Seth Curry.
Watch Curry completely lose Kevin Huerter on that off-ball backdoor move.
“With Seth, we [have] get closer, ”interim head coach Nate McMillan would lament after the game. “Our great [have] you have to be standing. When we have the blitz called to put two on the ball, we [have] must be logged on it. We just have to run with him. He does a good job getting off the screens.
Curry would continue to find weak spots in Atlanta’s transition defense and hand out punishments, as below.
Make no mistake, Curry has also demonstrated that he can put the ball on the ground and create from within the arc.
“Seth is gone,” Young said of the Sixers coming out of halftime. “They put the focus on him to get the ball.”
The Hawks, meanwhile, responded with five straight misfires after the break and would never lead for the rest of the competition.
“In the first half we had some ups and downs,” said Huerter, contrasting the two halves. “Our pace was really good. We have a lot of lob on the edge. There were three of us doing. It was really like we got everything we wanted on the offensive end. I just didn’t have the same pace in the second half. A lot of that happens when you take the ball out of the net. “
“We got on our heels. It was like the start of the last three games, ”said coach McMillan of the turn of events at halftime. “They came out aggressive defensively. Offensively, we never had this pace to start the second half.
The most unfortunate takeaway for Atlanta this game, especially in the second half, was the lack of input from normally reliable side options. Another factor was the Hawks’ performance on the free throw line. They only shot 13 of 24 from the charity strip for the game and started the fourth quarter with four consecutive misses from the foul line, two by Onyeka Okongwu and two by Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Bogdanovic left the game early with knee pain, but not before a disappointing seven-point, 3-for-11 night shot (27%). After helping lead a thrilling rally two nights ago, Lou Williams finished 0-for-5 with three fouls and two bad turnovers in just 11 minutes. John Collins struggled to shoot in tight space and finished with just seven points on eight field goal attempts.
Even Huerter, who was by far the second best perimeter tonight, was only 1 for 7 (14.3%) in the second half after being 6 for 8 (75%) in the first half. time.
“I thought the pressure from Philadelphia bothered us sometimes.” McMillan said of the bench performance. “We couldn’t see well. They returned it to us defensively. Lou had a big night for us in the last game, but didn’t see the ball go through the basket.
The last hope for Atlanta was a wild streak that ended with Young’s side jump for three right with two minutes remaining. Maxey can’t play a better defense than that, and yet the Hawks would find a way to come close to a point late in the game.
“The arena was euphoric,” Huerter said after the big hit. “The shooting clock is dropping. I didn’t have much. And he created something out of nothing and made a big bang.
The lights at State Farm Arena even went out soon after, but so did the silver lining for a full comeback for the third game in a row.
Joel Embiid had a less than superb outing, at least compared to the rest of his dominance this series, registering 24 points on 9 of 20 (45%) shots and 13 rebounds. The Hawks held him in check for most of the night, but that bucket after an unchallenged offensive rebound to take the lead to three was crucial.
“At that point, we knew we needed a save and the ball was probably going to Embiid at the low post,” Huerter said of his expectations for how the game would go after the shot. by Trae. “Force him to throw a hard shot, get the rebound and come back on the offensive side. It didn’t exactly work that way.
Young had a miserable turnaround with less than a minute to go and, with a late Huerter missing three that would have taken the game one point clear, the Hawks had run out of chances. With Atlanta fouling every opportunity to extend the game, Philadelphia made up for the free throw line and salted the game by scoring its last seven tries.
This game turned out to be the closest of the six end-to-end competition to date in this series, with neither team needing a crazy double-digit return to keep the game exciting. Despite Friday night’s result, the Hawks need to be cheered up knowing they had a chance to end the streak here and have already won two games in Philadelphia this series.
All eyes are on the health and performance of the cast in a win-win Game 7 Sunday night as the Hawks head to the second Eastern Conference Finals in Atlanta history.