Best-of-seven series continues today with the winner advancing to NBA Finals

Friday, June 25th, 2021 00:00 |
Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks plays defense on Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 23, 2021 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo/AFP

Washington, Thursday

Atlanta’s Trae Young scored a career playoff high 48 points and the Hawks edged host Milwaukee 116-113 in Wednesday’s opening game of the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

Young, who also contributed 11 assists and seven rebounds, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to spark a rally that baffled the Bucks.

“We just keep fighting until the end, no matter what the score is,” Young said. “That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to keep fighting.”

Young had the most points by any player making his conference finals debut since the NBA adopted the conference format 50 years ago.

The best-of-seven series continues Friday at Milwaukee with the winner advancing to an NBA Finals matchup against either the Phoenix Suns or the Los Angeles Clippers.

John Collins scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds while Clint Capela had 12 points and 19 rebounds.

“People overlook this team, take us for granted, so for us to come out here and get a win is big time,” Collins said.

Greek star big man Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists while Jrue Holiday had 33 points and 10 assists for the Bucks in a losing cause.

“We’ll get better,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We’ll get smarter game after game.” It was Milwaukee’s first home playoff loss this season.

“Young’s a great player,” Budenholzer said. “He had a great night. We feel like we can play better.”

Collins scored eight points, six on dunks, and Young added seven in a 21-8 Atlanta run that gave the Hawks a 79-73 lead late in the third quarter before the Bucks rallied.

Antetokounmpo scored six points to lead a 13-2 Bucks’ run for a 105-98 lead, but Collins hit a jumper and Young, who hit 17-of-34 shots from the floor, added a 3-point play to lift the Hawks back within two points.

The game was poised on a knife’s edge until Collins hit a 3-pointer and Capela scored on a rebound put-back that lifted the Hawks ahead 112-11 with 29.8 seconds remaining.

Young grabbed a loose ball and sank two more free throws, then he and Antetokounmpo exchanged free throws in the final seconds to create the final margin. - AFP

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