Trae Young established himself as a star for the Atlanta Hawks early on in his career. Since joining the organization in 2018 after becoming the fifth-overall pick out of Oklahoma, Young immediately showed superstar potential. However, he was only able to do it in the regular season as the Hawks weren't quite a playoff-ready squad.
During Young's rookie season in 2018-2019, the Hawks achieved a record of 29-53, which placed them 12th in the Eastern Conference. The following year, they struggled even more as they placed second-to-last behind the Cleveland Cavaliers with a record of 20-47.
Then this season, they turned it around completely. Finishing the year off at 41-31, Young and the Hawks landed the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Being the underdogs in the first round against the New York Knicks, many expected an epic battle between the two playoff newcomers.
However, Young and the Hawks proved to be the much superior team as they looked playoff-ready from the jump. Going on the road for the first two games, they managed to split the series 1-1 as they picked up a win at Madison Square Garden.
After winning the next two at home, the Hawks were in a prime position to win the series 4-1 on the road in Game 5. They did just that, sending the Knicks packing in upset fashion after just five games.
Then, the Hawks' hot streak didn't end there. As they traveled to Philadelphia to face the 76ers for Game 1 of the second round, the Hawks once again shocked the NBA as they took down the first-seeded Sixers in Game 1. While Philly managed to get a 2-1 lead over the next couple of matchups, the Hawks formed two unlikely comebacks in Games 4 and 5 to get a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6.
On Friday night, the Hawks hosted the Sixers for what they hoped would be the final game of the series. With a win, the Hawks would've punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, but the game didn't go in their favor.
Despite putting on a stellar 34-point performance, Trae Young's Hawks fell short to the Sixers 104-99. Now, the two teams will meet for the seventh and final time on Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly.
Oftentimes, a player in his first playoff run might crumble in a Game 7 on the road -- especially when it's in Philly -- one of the toughest environments to play in for opposing teams over the last few seasons.
But if Trae Young proved one thing during his first playoff run, it's that he's not afraid of playing on the road in the postseason.
“I’m always comfortable," the young guard said following Game 6. "It’s always basketball at the end of the day. That’s how I feel -- I’m always comfortable when I’m on the court -- because I’ve worked so hard, and I’ve put in the work. So, no matter if it’s a Game 1 or a Game 7, I’m gonna feel comfortable. It’s just basketball.”
Averaging 30 points in this series, the Hawks are going to need Young to play his best basketball on Sunday night. Considering he feels comfortable and confident no matter what the circumstances are, the Sixers should expect some stiff competition when they face the Hawks on Sunday night.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.