Trae Young shook off a rough 3-for-12 first half and a sore shoulder to lead his Atlanta Hawks in a riveting 103-100 come-from-behind victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, leveling their Eastern Conference semifinal series at two games apiece.
Young finished with 25 points and 18 assists in 40 minutes of action and became the first Hawks’ player to have 18 assists in a playoff game. Young also became the youngest player in NBA history to have 18 assists in a playoff game.
“I got hit last game and it’s been kind of sore,” Young said following the win. “For me, it wasn’t a bother — it was just kind of fighting through it, knowing it was kind of sore. I just tried to work it out and keep it warm throughout the game.”
In the first quarter, the Sixers had a 20-4 run. The Hawks cut the lead down to three points. Philadelphia responded by going on a 17-4 run and, ultimately, the lead would swell to 18 points. However, when Embiid came out of the halftime break, seemingly, the torn meniscus in his right knee caused the Philadelphia big man some issues. Embiid finished 17 points and 21 rebounds, however, there was a noticeable difference between his play in the second half.
He was 4-of-20 from the field and was 0-for-12 in the fourth quarter.
“We stopped passing,” Rivers said. “I thought we started the game off that way, then we got back to the ball movement, then we went back to hero basketball. Basically, everybody wanted to be the hero instead of just trusting the team, trusting each other. So when you do that you usually lose, especially when the other team outworks you the whole f–king game, and that’s what they did today.”
Meanwhile, Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 22 points. Forward John Collins appeared to have a breakout game tonight with 14 points and 12 rebounds as he asserted himself in the painted area. His performances in the first three games were forgettable, however, a switch was flipped in Collins’ play after he suffered a hard foul by the Sixers’ point guard Ben Simmons with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.
“I just thought they were the more physical, tougher team and it wasn’t even close tonight,” Rivers said. “I was really disappointed in how our approach was tonight. Give the Hawks credit. I thought they knocked us around the floor. I thought Collins was the toughest man on the floor all night.”
While the Sixers were reeling, the Hawks made adjustments to their lineup. Hawks head coach Nate McMillan sat Solomon Hill, who had struggled in games 2 and 3, in favor of Kevin Huerter. Also, the great sixth man, Lou Williams, chipped in with nine points in 13 minutes. Williams at times, was on the floor with Huerter and Young, relieving the ball-handling duties from time to time. The lineup changes were necessitated by the season-ending lateral meniscus injury suffered by De’Andre Hunter.
“I like what Kevin did and brought to the floor, having three ballhandlers on the floor and able to space the floor,” McMillan said.
Atlanta committed four turnovers and took 101 shots in the game.
“Only four turnovers big time for us and I think that’s a big reason why we won,” Young said. “I mean even though we shot 30% in both categories, we had over 100 possessions, and as for us we got a lot of guys who can make plays.”
Game five will be played at 7:30 PM Wednesday in Philadelphia. Game six will be played Friday at 7:30 PM in Atlanta.