Trae Leads the Hawks to Another Game 1 Road Win
Story by @KLChouinard
Another playoff series, another opportunity.
The Hawks went on the road to start their third series, and for the third time in three tries, the Hawks came away with a Game 1 win: 116-113 in Milwaukee. Trae Young paced the Hawks early and late, scoring a playoff career-high 48 points to go with 11 assists and 7 rebounds, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 45 or more points and 10 or more assists in a conference finals game.
If John Collins wasn't at a complete loss for words to describe his teammate's performance, he at least lacked a new way to describe it.
"I don't really have – in a great way – much to say about Trae. It's almost normal at this point to me," Collins said. "48 points is amazing. He brought his lunch pail today."
Trae indeed brought a workmanlike attitude to the game. When the Bucks played a big lineup featuring Brook Lopez at center protecting the rim, Trae ran the pick-and-roll and scored on a series of floaters in the paint. When the Bucks played a smaller lineup with Giannis Antetokounmpo and defended the pick-and-roll with switches, Trae scored on threes, one-on-one drives and free throws to eke out just enough offense for the win.
Trae also made two breathtaking plays in the third quarter that will be remembered for a long time. First, he ran a pick-and-roll with John Collins and scooped a pass off the glass for the alley-oop dunk. Two minutes later, he set up like he was going to run another pick-and-roll with Collins, but then sharply reversed direction with a crossover dribble away from the screen, leaving the defender on the wrong side of the screen several feet away. Trae paused, took a deep breath, shimmied his shoulders and sank the three.
“I had a lot of time," Trae quipped afterward. "I was kind of tired a little bit. I got a little second to get a deep breath and knock it down."
And while the alley-oop off the glass left jaws slacked across the globe, it did not count as an assist in the official scorebook. Collins, who finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds, was not surprised by the pass, nor was it the first time in his career that he had converted such a helper from Trae.
"I can't really give away how I know, but I knew, for sure," Collins said afterward.
The Bucks, who were led by 34 points and 9 assists from Antetokounmpo, nearly pulled away from the Hawks in the fourth quarter. After a first half where they successfully drove to the rim and scored with a number of players, they used Antetokounmpo as a screener and roller late in the game to convert a number of assisted dunks.
When the Hawks trailed by 4 points with two minutes remaining, they made perhaps their most significant series of plays. After a pair of missed threes, Collins and Capela snared successive offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive, with Collins eventually fanning out to the corner and knocking down a three to convert Trae's 11th assist.
Capela, in addition to drawing the difficult assignment of guarding Antetokounmpo, a two-time MVP, grabbed a career playoff-high 19 rebounds, including a putback layup with 29.8 seconds left that gave the Hawks the lead for good.
Stat of the Game:
Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was listed on the pregame injury report as questionable with right knee soreness, started and led the Hawks with three steals.
"We need him," Kevin Huerter said. "He's a smart player, just really good at the game of basketball, just knowing the game and being in the right spots. He's out there on one leg. He's gutting it out for us right now."
Quote of the game
Clint Capela, on Trae's alley-oop off the glass and shimmy three:
"It gets our bench hyped. It gets us hyped. It's just – it's crazy, man. It's just crazy. Even that pass off the backboard, that's crazy. That's crazy. I mean, I've played with a lot of good players, but I've never seen that, especially at this stage. It's crazy to see."
Highlight of the game
I guess we'll let Clint pick this one:
In taking Game 1 of the series, the Hawks won their first-ever Conference Finals game.
Next game info:
The Hawks and Bucks resume the series with Game 2 Friday. You can catch it at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.
Next home game:
The series shifts back to State Farm Arena for Game 3 on Sunday. (8:30 PM ET, TNT)