For the first time since moving from St. Louis to Atlanta for the 1968-69 season, the Hawks have won a conference finals game.
It came Wednesday, a 116-113 nail-biter of a Game 1 road victory over the Bucks in which Trae Young erupted for 48 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds and one pass off the backboard for a John Collins slam.
“It’s special,” Young said, via Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I wanted to achieve things like that when I was a rookie coming in. As a rookie, you don’t know how hard it is until you have to actually do it, so to achieve an accomplishment like that in winning our first of hopefully many conference (finals) games, it’s a great accomplishment for our team and the city.”
As Spencer noted, this is Young’s first experience in the playoffs, and this is the third time he’s scored 25 points — by halftime.
“He is a big part of this organization taking that next step, because he is the guy that is going to lead us to that style of basketball,” Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said, via Spencer. “… Starting probably the last series, he’s calling most of the plays, and I want that because I want him to have a feel for what’s going on, how to get his teammates involved, and he’s done a really good job of doing that.”
Guard/forward Cam Reddish was available for the first time since Feb. 21, but didn’t play in Game 1. Reddish has been dealing with a sore Achilles. “We haven’t had the opportunity for him to get in any five-on-five since he’s been off,” McMillan said. “He’s been playing the last week or so some two-on-two, three-on-three.”
Given how the Hawks started, and how they fired former coach Lloyd Pierce and replaced him with McMillan, their run truly has been an incredible story, wrote Brad Botkin of CBS Sports.
No matter how this magical season ends, the Hawks still have a first-round pick, No. 20 overall. The latest mock from ESPN’s Jonathon Givony has them selecting guard Tre Mann out of Florida. “Mann is a promising pick-and-roll ball handler whose size and 40% 3-point shooting will allow him to play in a variety of lineup configurations,” Givony wrote.