June 20th, 2021 we saw a great eastern conference semi-final series between the east's #1 seeded Philadelphia 76ers and the #5 seeded Atlanta Hawks come to an end with an intense game 7. But it was not the favored team who moved on...
This year was the first time that the Atlanta Hawks have made it into the playoffs in general since the 2016-17 season where they lost to the wizards 2-4 in the very first round.
But for 10 straight years from the 2007-2008 season to 2016-17 season, they made the playoffs every year straight even making it to the eastern conference playoffs in 2014-15 but was swept by Lebron and the Cleveland Cavaliers where we would see Lebron and the Cavs ultimately win the cities first NBA Championship.
For the next few years, the Hawks were on rebuild mode but did not strike any gold until 3 years ago in 2018 where they used their number 5 draft pick to choose Trae Young, the smaller-statured point guard out of the Oklahoma Sooners.
In Trae’s first year there were talks and some worries about him being too small for the league and could get hurt with the way he plays.
Trae ended his rookie season with just over 19 points and played and started in 81 of the 81 season games.
But it was the next season where Trae made us all realize he was going to be alright and averaged 29 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists a game. Although they did not have a great ending record and did not make the playoffs again like his rookie year.
Then this 2020-21 season starts and we saw the Hawks make some tremendous moves, at least in my eyes, where they added the big man and rebounding monster Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets, added sharp shooting Bogdan Bogdanovic to help with the scoring, and also added the veteranship of Lou Williams and Danillo Gallinari.
Before the season started I would just look at the lineup they had and knew right away that this team would be a sleeper this season. And funny enough, no one believed it and laughed at me.
Fast forward to the end of the regular season and the Atlanta Hawks finished with a 41 win 31 loss record to put themself in the 5th seed of the eastern conference being matched up with the #4 seeded New York Knicks team who also ended with the exact same record.
All throughout the season, the Knicks showed how different they were this season compared to the ones prior and made everyone recognize and take note.
Led by the leagues Most improved player of this season Julius Randle and the Coach of the year Tom Thibadeau, I and the majority of the sports world thought this could possibly be the year the knicks make an impact in the playoffs after being kept out of it for more years than the hawks.
But once the playoffs started the Knicks, unfortunately, became a victim of themselves and just did what the Knicks do, which was start falling apart.
This time in the playoffs against the Hawks losing the series 4-1 where they only won game 2.
As stated I was for sure worried for the Hawks in that matchup before the series started.
BUT if you have been an avid reader of my articles on NewsBreak then you may have seen one article I wrote a few weeks ago titled “The Two dark horse teams in each conference that you can not sleep on”, And Guess who was my choice for the east side, you guessed it. Atlanta.
So as I did have some worry in me for the team, I also was ready to not be surprised at all if they beat the Knicks to move on.
After moving onto the second round the team was now matched up with the number 1 team in the east the Philadelphia 76ers who also beat the Washington Wizards 4-1 in the first round.
If there was a worry with the Hawks playing the Knicks in the first round then you already know there was when playing the super well-rounded team of the 76ers led by MVP contender Joel Embiid and defensive player of the year runner up Ben Simmons.
In-game 1 we saw the Hawks come to Philly and hit them with a very quick first punch and take the win by just 4 points. In that game, we saw Trae score 35 with 10 assists and 2 rebounds and we saw Embiid score 39 points with 9 rebounds and 4 assists.
Games 2 and 3 were where we saw the more predictable outcomes happen and the 76ers took game 2 by 16 points with the end score being 118-102 where Embiid scored 40 points and had 11 rebounds. And Game 3 where the Hawks once again lost by 16 points with an end score of 127-111 this time Embiid scored 27 points but it was the whole teams scoring effort that won the game. Trae ended with a 28 point game in the losing effort
Going into Game 4 I thought possibly the series was all but over and going into halftime we saw the 76ers have a 13 point lead. But just like in the last game how the 76ers had a complete team scoring effort, it was the Hawks that did this time and stormed back to outscore the 76ers by 11 in the 3rd quarter and then 5 in the 4th quarter which gave the hawks the win by just 3 points this time with the score of 103-100 which now tied the series 2-2
Game 5 was insanely similar to game 4 and the 76ers took a big 22 point lead heading into halftime. But once again it was the resilience and team chemistry that willed the Hawks back into the game outsourcing the 76ers by 4 in the 3rd quarter and then by 21 in the 4th quarter to steal the incredible upset comeback by just 3 points again. Trae had an incredible 39 point outing and on Philly’s side Joel Embiid had 37 points and Seth Curry had a shocking 36 points. But was not enough to keep the lead and get the win.
In-game 6 there was little to no doubt that the 76ers would not go out without a legit fight and would send this series to game 7. But at the beginning of the game, we saw the Hawks outscore the 76ers 7 in the first quarter but then get outscored by 3 in the second quarter which took them to the half with a 51 to 47 lead.
Then as the game progressed we saw the 76ers take the lead back outsourcing the Hawks in both the 3rd and 4th taking the win by 5 points in Atlanta with the end score of 104-99 sending this series to game 7.
With game 7 going back to Philly you knew the crowd was going to be wild and that it was. In the first quarter we saw the 76ers outscore the Hawks 28 to 25 but just to run out of steam in the second quarter and score only 18 points getting outscored by the Hawks 23-18 which gave the Hawks a 2 point lead going into halftime.
In the second half of the game, it was very back and fourth but it was the Hawk who outscored the 76ers in both the last 2 quarters. 28 to 25 in the 3rd quarter and 27 to 25 in the 4th quarter to take the win and end the series in front of a stunned Philly crowd with the score of 103-96.
Embiid was the game's high scorer, with 31 points and 11 rebounds, Tobias Harris had 24 points and even had 14 rebounds and Seth Curry had 16 points to his name.
The spotlight for the 76ers downfall was mainly on point guard Ben Simmons as he had a horrible game where he only had 5 points on 2 of 4 shot attempts and only took 3 total field goals in the 4th quarter of all 7 series games combined. But that will be another story or video for another day.
This video is about the Atlanta Hawks and the Atlanta Hawks are now back in the eastern conference finals after 5 years.
What I will end with is a huge congrats to the Atlanta Hawks for making it. And I will also leave you guys with a friendly, “I told you so”
Hope you guys enjoyed the read