The sight of Trae Young on a bench, calmly studying every moment of a game unfold while nursing his shoulder, has become one of my favorite sights in these playoffs.
He often looks cool and collected, even when the Atlanta Hawks fall behind big, and is always ready to get back in the game and make plays for himself and his teammates.
The Hawks entered Game 1 against of the Eastern Conference Finals as big underdogs, but as they’ve shown time and again this postseason, they’d rather play the game than worry about any disadvantage.
Young against silenced the away crowd for the third-straight time in Game 1 of a series. It’s becoming quite the habit. The Hawks haven’t had home court advantage at all, thanks to finishing with the fifth seed in the east, but don’t tell them that.
Young, especially, seems to thrive off of making a statement in Game 1s. His latest masterpiece saw him drop 48 points, 7 rebounds, 11 assists and a steal. Yes, he turned over the ball six times, but as their single superstar and primary ball-handler, you can forgive that. He also shot 17 of 34 from the field, 4 of 13 from three and 10 of 12 from the free throw line. Any coach in the world would trade that stat line for six turnovers.
It’s not just the gaudy numbers that make him such a compelling player to watch, as well. There’s something about “Ice” Trae that’s just fun to watch. He oozes with confidence and manages to make a difference even when he struggles with his shot, which has happened multiple times these playoffs.
His leadership also gets the best out of his supporting cast, who all give their 100% for him. In Game 1, John Collins provided aid in the form of 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Clint Capela also continued to terrorize the boards with 12 points and 19 rebounds.
It was an ugly game shooting wise, as the Hawks and Bucks combined to shoot 16 of 68 from deep, but when the long-range shots aren’t falling, great players like Young still find ways to win games.
What makes Young’s latest heroics special is that this time, there’s little excuse that anyone can make about the Hawks battling an injury-rattled opponent.
The Milwaukee Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday all active. Holiday even shook off his shooting struggles for a night and dropped 33 points and 10 rebounds on 14 of 25 shooting (5 of 12 from three). The Greek Freak has one of his customary games as well, finishing with a near-triple-double of 34 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists.
The Hawks won the game straight-up, and Young was the key to it all. He scored or assisted 7 out of the Hawks’ last 9 points, and he even grabbed the last rebound of the game after Middleton clanked a three. Atlanta’s last four points of the game were free throws, and unlike someone on the west coast, Young didn’t wilt and sank them all.
Take a bow, Trae. There’s no turning back now. You’re a damn superstar.