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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JUNE 23: Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks and Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks go after a loose ball during the second quarter in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum on June 23, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo : Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
There’s no homecourt advantage when it comes to playing the Atlanta Hawks. After shocking the 76ers in Philadelphia in Game 7 on Monday, the Hawks pulled off another upset victory on the road in the playoffs, this time against the highly-favored Milwaukee Bucks, winning 116-113 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Young dazzles in Game 1 win
Trae Young led the way for the Hawks who improved to 6-2 in the playoffs when playing on the road. What makes the victory even more pleasing for Atlanta is the fact that this was the Bucks’ first defeat at home in this year’s playoffs.
With the win, the Hawks recorded their first ever win in the Eastern Conference Finals since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1968. Atlanta reached the Eastern Finals back in 2015 but were swept by LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Powering the Hawks’ resurgence in this postseason is the highly-talented Trae Young. He was once again magnificent in the series opener against the Bucks, scoring a playoff career-high 48 points and dishing out 11 assists. This is the fifth time in this postseason that Young recorded at least 25 points and 10 assists.
Young’s performance in Game 1 was also history-making according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 22-year-old guard scored or assisted on 72 of Atlanta’s points in Game 1 against Milwaukee, the most in a conference finals game all-time. He was red-hot from the field, shooting 17 of 34 from the floor, including 4 of 13 from beyond the arc.
The Bucks looked to be on their way to another home win after going on a 9-0 run to set up a 105-98 lead with 4:18 remaining in the contest. The Hawks, as they have done this entire postseason, battled back strongly, though, unleashing a 12-6 spurt to cut Milwaukee’s lead to one, 111-110.
Khris Middleton missed a jumper on the ensuing possession with 43 seconds left that set the stage for Clint Capela’s late heroics. He grabbed his 19th rebound off a Trae Young miss and scored on a putback with 29.8 seconds left to give Atlanta the lead for good. Young sealed the win with four late free throws.
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Collins and Capela provide much-needed support
It wasn’t just Young who starred for Atlanta in this Game 1 win. John Collins and Capela feasted down low for the Hawks, combining for 35 points and 34 rebounds. They helped pick up the scoring slack with Bogdan Bogdanovic struggling with a knee problem. He looked out of sorts in the series opener, scoring just four points on 1 of 6 shooting from the field.
It’s back to the drawing board for the Bucks who trail 0-1 for the second series running. One guy who needs to improve for Milwaukee is Middleton. He struggled mightily in Game 1, scoring just 15 points on a woeful 6 of 23 shooting from the field as he missed all nine of his three-point attempts.
Middleton’s lack of offensive production deeply hurt the Bucks who wasted great performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday. The Greek Freak had 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in Game 1 while Holiday finally woke up from his offensive slumber, adding 33 points and 10 assists.
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