Nate McMillan

Hawks Flying To NBA Finals?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The Atlanta Hawks are making an improbable playoff run.

They just beat the No.1 seed in the East, Philadelphia, in Game 7 of the East Semifinals to advance to the Conference Finals.

They overcame a subpar performance from the team’s star, Trae Young. He was 5 for 23 from the floor. Young did finish with 21 points and 10 assists.

“I knew I had to find a way,” Young said. “My shot was off. My right hand and shoulder were giving out. But my teammates showed up and made plays. I wanted to come through in the end and help them out.”

Shooting guard Kevin Huerter led the team with 27 points, making 10 of 18 shots (55%).

Danilo Gallinari had 17 points off the bench. John Collins had 14 points and 16 rebounds.

“This team is special, man,” Huerter said. “Everybody has counted us out all year. For us to make it this far and win in this building in Game 7, it’s huge for us.”

Lloyd Pierce was fired as the head coach and Nate McMillan was named interim head coach on March 1, 2021. The Hawks went 27 – 11 and won the Southeast division.

“I felt like they were built for this moment tonight to win this game,” Coach Nate McMillan said.

MVP runner up Joel Embiid had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 8 turnovers playing with a meniscus tear in his right knee.

The other star for the Sixers, Ben Simmons played poorly. He only had 5 points in the game and routinely passed up open shots. In the series he shot 33% from the free throw line, which is clearly terrible.

Atlanta had been 0-9 in Games 7s on the road. Now they are advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2015.

This marked only the second year since 1973 — when the NBA began seeding for the playoffs by conference — when neither No. 1 seed will make the conference finals. The Clippers eliminated West No. 1 seed Utah.

“We gave them life from Game 1,” 76ers forward Tobias Harris said. “It’s a young, hungry team.”

The next test waiting for Atlanta are the Milwaukee Bucks, the No. 3 seed in the East. The Bucks are led by superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA the Greek Freak.

This season he averaged 28.1 ppg, 11 rpg and 5.9 apg. He makes 56.9% of his field goals but he plays close to the basket. He only shoots 30.3% from the three-point line. In Game 7 against the No. 2 seed Brooklyn Nets, he had 40 points and 13 rebounds.

The deciding factor in the series will come from the rest of the team. Giannis will play well, but he needs help from his teammates.

Small forward Kris Middleton averaged 20.4 ppg and 6 rpg this season. If he plays well consistently Milwaukee will be tough to beat.

Game 1 is Wednesday, 8:30 pm in Milwaukee. We will see if the Hawks can continue to be road warriors and steal the opening game.

I think the playoff run comes to an end for Atlanta. I expect the Bucks to win in 6 games.