The inexperienced Atlanta Hawks and Trae Young don’t seem to feel the pressure of NBA playoff basketball.
They are confident and open-minded. They don’t get upset. They are 4-0 when postseason games are decided by less than three points and 6-1 when it is seven or more.
Young stated Wednesday that “when you have a team that believes in each other and is fighting on court for each other, anything could happen.”
The Hawks lead the Milwaukee Bucks by 1-0 heading into Friday’s Eastern Conference finals. As they try to win the franchise’s first championship since 1958, when they were located in St. Louis, the fifth-seeded Hawks are now 6-2 in playoff road matches.
Young’s 48-point game in Game 1 was the second highest playoff total in franchise history behind Dominique Wilkins 50-point effort during Game 2 of a 1986 series victory over Detroit. According the Elias Sports Bureau Young was the first player to score at least 45 points and 10 assists during a conference finals match.
He does it with flair and ease, as he enjoys the postseason. This is his chance to show off his talents in front of national television viewers who haven’t seen the Hawks in a while.
Young faked out Milwaukee’s Jrue holiday on a crossover late into the third quarter to make himself wide open behind 3-point arc. Young then paused for a while and did some shimmy before making the shot.
Clint Capela, Hawks center, said that he has seen many players retreat when they reach this stage. He reached the West finals in 2015 and 2018. “What I see in him is so much confidence and fearlessness, attacking again, again. It’s contagious for our team.”
The Hawks haven’t suffered from a lack of postseason experience. The Hawks don’t need to be burdened by past playoff disappointments or expectations. They are performing at their best when the game is on the line.
After the Hawks fired Lloyd Pierce, Atlanta’s knack of winning close games began . Nate McMillan was hired as their coach.
The Hawks went 1-6 in games decided by less than five points, or that ended in overtime under Pierce. McMillan’s arrival saw the Hawks finish the regular season at 8-2 in games that fit this profile.
This trend continues in the following season.
Solomon Hill, Hawks reserve forward, was part of the Miami Heat team which won the East as No. 5 seed in last year’s playoffs. __S.22__
Hill stated Thursday that “that was one thing that was enormous about Miami.” “Our belief in ourselves was more important than anyone else’s belief. The locker room was the best place to be if you want to win it. It was a result of sacrifices. It was hard work. We had a hustle mentality and it showed. It’s the same thing that shows up here.
This is a far lesser effort than the Hawks.
Bogdan Bogdanovic has a sore right leg that is limiting his ability to play. Cam Reddish has returned from his Achilles injury which kept him out of action for four months. However, the Hawks will be slowly introducing him after such a long absence. After undergoing knee surgery, De’Andre Hunter will be out for the rest of the postseason.
Atlanta was able to overcome those injuries and rolled past Philadelphia and New York to reach the conference finals.
Young is the catalyst. Young continues to make an impact, even when he’s not shooting well. He manages the pace of the game and gets to the free throw line.
The Hawks have embraced his courage and fearlessness, winning Game 1 on the road in each of their first three playoff rounds.
Kevin Huerter, Hawks’ guard, said that everyone seemed fearless on the Hawks stage. “And he is clearly the ringleader.”