Another big game from Trae Young, another Game 1 win for the Atlanta Hawks.
There seems to be a pattern here, and if it continues in the Eastern Conference finals, then the Milwaukee Bucks will soon be sitting in the losers’ lounge, having drinks with the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia 76ers.
I know, it’s only Game 1 and we know nothing new at this point other than the fact that Trae isn’t done yet. Will he ever be?
Trae, as he has done multiple times in these playoffs, had his imprint all over this game. Check the box score and what will pop out is his 48 points, a new career-high. Check the highlights and it’s Trae all over the place.
He’s dishing out behind-the-back passes off a double team to hit an open teammate. He’s doing the Rondo fake at the 3 then drives for a floater. He’s doing the shimmy before taking a 3. He’s throwing lobs off the glass in traffic.
These are just a few of the bizarre things that Trae Young did against the Bucks. He also did a couple of heroic things down the stretch that could go unnoticed, but heroic nonetheless.
Because he commands so much attention on the offensive end, he was able to draw three defenders in the lane and find an open John Collins (23 points and 15 rebounds) for a corner three. That play was huge, cutting down a four-point Bucks’ lead with less than two minutes left.
Trae also hit clutch free throw after clutch free throw (it’s not easy, just ask Paul George) to keep the Bucks at a safe distance.
Trae’s playoff performance at this point is untouchable. His 48 in Game 1 is the most points ever scored in a conference finals debut. He’s one of only five players to score 40 points in the conference finals before their 23rd birthday.
But what makes the Hawks a truly dangerous team is that wasn’t all Trae. They’ll fool you into thinking that, but the solid contributions from Collins and Clint Capela (12 points and 19 rebounds) are making the Hawks who they are.
“It’s been fun playing with this group. We just keep fighting until the end, no matter what the score is,” Young said postgame.
The Hawks won because of poor pick-and-roll coverage and lack of rebounding by the Bucks and, of course, because Trae Young got whatever he wanted.
It’s too early to say if Game 1 Trae is an actual thing. Let’s circle back on this if and when we’re talking about that blessed day when the Hawks are in the finals. If that happens, we should all agree not to be shocked by then.