Here’s what makes the Hawks one of the two best in the East. With no desire to bow to Milwaukee. Huerter: “It is essential for us to have people like Danilo”
Don’t call her Cinderella at the Grand Ball. Atlanta will also be a young group, with a 22-year-old star and most of the key players in their first playoff experience. But he has no intention of stopping at the sensational conference final reached by winning 103-96 Philadelphia in race-7. “We are happy with where we have come, but we have faith in ourselves. And we still have games to win, ”says Trae Young, with a proclamation that sounds threatening. Milwaukee, opponent since Wednesday in the last act of the East, is warned.
Atlanta’s main secret is Young. In these playoffs he exploded, completing his maturation from selfish star to leader. See game-7 to believe: 5/23 shooting, but 10 assists to keep the attack spinning. “I knew I had to find a way to make a difference – he says -. It is a good feeling to know that I have companions around me who help me, The shot did not go in, the shoulder bothered me, but I knew I had to do something anyway. Especially in the fourth period, I knew I had to find my teammates ”. Closes the series with 125 assists, fifth in history after the first 12 playoff games of his team, closes having overcome the obstacle Ben Simmons, who may have been disastrous in attack but who in defense with his size is always a tough nut to crack. Nothing, however, seems too harsh for Trae. “He plays in a stellar way – coach McMillan exalts him -, in game-7 he continued to be aggressive even if the shot didn’t enter, forcing the Philadelphia defense to take care of him in an important way. And he always managed to find the right players ”.
The secret of Atlanta, in this series, is precisely the group. The one capable of pulling out 27 points in race-7 from Kevin Huerter, a starter only because De’Andre Hunter ended the season. What blossomed after the problems of the beginning of the season, finding the perfect harmony between youngsters and veterans and becoming the strength of this team. “I think this group was built for moments like these – says McMillan -. We have always played with confidence, convinced that if we played our way we would have had a chance. I can’t believe how calm I stayed in this game, because I was sure that I would get everything they had from my parents. We won a game-7 away from home, recovering after losing at home when we had the opportunity to end the series. It shows how much we have grown ”. It was a team growth: Clint Capela leveled up against Joel Embiid, John Collins who after a difficult start in the playoff found a way to make a difference, X-Factor Kevin Huerter, the immortal Lou Williams.
Among the strengths of the Hawks there is obviously Danilo Gallinari. He earned the first conference finals of his career at 14.7 points on average, shooting 46.3% from the field and 44.1% from three, closing the series with a crescendo of performance culminating in 17 points in race-7. Physically he is not at the top, yet he has always been there for the team. Not only with his points or with his defense, but becoming a point of reference for his teammates. “It is essential for us to have veterans like him – is Huerter’s praise to the blue -: we are a good mix of young players and more experienced players, Gallo and the others are just what we need”.
The real secret of the Hawks is coach McMillan. Interim Coach, to be precise, a label that the team will immediately remove as soon as the season is over. “We knew from the day he took over the team that he would make a change – says Clint Capela -. He was always clear about what he wanted, what he expected of us. We immediately understood the role each of us had, how to be successful and what each of us had to do to make sure we had it ”. Atlanta went from failure to success with him, from slum squad to two impressively past playoff rounds, to the first game-7 away win in franchise history, to the first conference final since 2015. Above all, it’s became a group: “We believe in ourselves, we trust each other and on the pitch we give everything, following what the coach asks of us – explains Young -. And the best part is that it’s just the beginning ”. New York and Philadelphia have discovered it on their own skin. New York is warned.
June 21, 2021 (change June 21, 2021 | 09:03)
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