Atlanta Hawks eliminated the Philadelphia 76ers from the NBA playoffs tonight, beating them in Game 7 of the East semifinals, 103-96.
The Hawks posted this colossal win in Philly, beating the 76ers at their own court for the third time in the series, thus clinching one of the biggest postseason surprises in the past few years.
Philadelphia came into this series as the No.1 seed in the conference, following a relatively easy job in the first round, once eliminating the Washington Wizards. They had Joel Embiid, the NBA MVP award finalist, and several other names, which were in the combination for various honors, while on the other side, the Hawks’ players didn’t have any accolades.
However, that didn’t prevent them from reaching the conference finals for the second time in the last 50 years, the first since 2016.
Game 7 saw a big battle, with both sides trading blows throughout the whole 48 minutes. Neither side had some big run that would see them pulling away. The biggest lead Philly had was four, and Atlanta seven points.
The turning point of the event was Trae Young’s three-pointer with 2:31 left, once Atlanta went to 93-87, which they managed to keep in the end.
Though, Trae wasn’t the Hawks’ best player tonight because Kevin Huerter had one of the best performances of his life. The sharpshooting guard delivered 27 points, shooting 10-for-18 from the field, and completely destroying the rival’s defense.
“This team is special, man,” he 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.”
Huerter was there to cover up both Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic, who were far from the expected level. Bogi had four points in 21 minutes, while Trae did score 21 points with 10 dimes, but making just five of his 23 field goal attempts.
Young had a terrible first half, shooting 1-for-12 from the field, not making any significant impact on the floor.
One other guy who also deserved to be in the center of attention was John Collins. He scored 14 points but had 16 rebounds, competing with Joel Embiid and making it hard for the Process to establish his game, especially in the vital moments. Collins played 41 minutes, often guarding Philly’s best players, and most of the time, successfully.
As for Embiid, he did score 31 points with 11 boards, but overall, he didn’t lead the game as usual. The Cameroonian center couldn’t bet the 76ers going and was constantly under pressure coming from the other side.
Embiid didn’t have too much help coming from his teammates because only two of them had a double-digit number of points. Tobias Harris scored 24 points and 14 rebounds, shooting 8-for-24, and Seth Curry added 16 points. All others were far away from the needed level.
Ben Simmons had another disappointing game – five points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds. The former Rookie of the Year again didn’t take a single shot in the final 12 minutes.
“We gave them life from Game 1,” 76ers’ Tobias Harris said. “It’s a young, hungry team.”
Philly’s board will have their hands full this offseason as they need to improve the team following another disappointing season.
On the other side, the Hawks are in the East finals where they meet the Milwaukee Bucks, who eliminated the Brooklyn Nets following Game 7 as well.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.