Atlanta Hawks
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JUNE 20: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts during Round 2, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on June 20, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Atlanta Hawks Are One Round Away From the Finals – Told You So

Well, well, well, look who was right this time. About two weeks ago, I told you all why the Atlanta Hawks should be taken seriously in the East. Many people looked right over it, and some even called me crazy. Now, with a little help from Ben Simmons, Atlanta is only 4 games away from their first finals appearance since 1961. For those who missed my first article, here you go:

So, how did they pull this off?

They Have Scorers

There are 2 things that are absolutely essential to have in the playoffs, and the first is having consistent scoring. If you look at the Hawks’ roster, you can see that they have about 5 guys that can create their own shots. Trae Young, Lou Williams, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, and Bogdan Bogdanović are all reliable go-to-guys when Atlanta needs a bucket. It goes without saying that Young isn’t only lethal with his shot, too. Like I’ve been saying since the start of the playoffs, there are so many ways he can get his team points.

However, the Hawks didn’t win game 7 because of Trae Young. He started off the game poorly, and Huerter (who had the game of his life) and Gallinari were able to pick up the slack scoring wise. This is what makes Atlanta so dangerous and tough to put away. They’re simply able to get buckets when they most need them. Speaking of Kevin Huerter, he’s now my new favorite player. You know the rules:

Credit: @blackdragonroll on Twitter

Defense

The other essential factor needed for success in the playoffs is defense. I’ll be the first to say that the Hawks didn’t necessarily do anything special to win Game 7. Their defense was good, but when it comes down to it the 76ers were the reason for their own demise. Philly didn’t do themselves any favors turning the ball over 17 times.

Where the Hawks were successful last night was in their ability to play smart defensively down the stretch. After Ben Simmons passed up a dunk with 3:30 to go in the game, the 76ers were unable to get any great looks. Save for an easy Tobias Harris layup, the Hawks clutched up and forced bad shot after bad shot for Philly. Atlanta also has to thank Simmons for their ability to lock up down the stretch, as the option to intentionally foul him has been one of the most consistently effective moves all series.

A Force in the East for Years to Come?

In the article I wrote about Atlanta two weeks ago, I pointed out that they have Nate McMillan to thank for this success. This team really only started playing well after they fired Lloyd Pierce and promoted McMillan. With McMillan running the show, these young Hawks are looking like they have a very bright future. Their core is still developing, and if they’re able to add more talent to this roster, you’re looking at a perennial finals contender for the next few years. Trust me on that.

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