At this point in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has proven that no moment is too big for him. During the first round of the Hawks' postseason, Young waltzed into a hostile environment at Madison Square Garden in New York City and shushed the crowd with a standout performance and a win.
After winning three of the next four games against the New York Knicks, the Hawks advanced to the second round, facing the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers. On Sunday, the Hawks and the Sixers faced off for Game 1 of the second round at the Wells Fargo Center, and once again, Young rose to the occasion.
In the first quarter, the star guard drained five of his seven shots from the field for 12 points. In the second quarter, he collected 13 points by knocking down three of his six field-goal attempts, along with going 5-5 from the free-throw line.
Going into halftime, Young had 25 points in just 17 minutes of action. At that point, the Sixers seemed lost as they trailed 20 points and nearly saw a deficit of as much as 30 points through the first two quarters.
Although the first half was ugly, the second half was somewhat promising for the Sixers as they gave Young a bit of a different look. After a hot start to the game, Young had a quiet third quarter. Playing the entire 12 minutes out of the half, the superstar guard shot just 1-6 from the field, collecting four of his six points from foul shots.
Then in the fourth quarter, Young collected just four points in the nine minutes he played. Although the Sixers teased a comeback -- they came up short. While the loss was disappointing, mainly because of Young's miraculously dominant start to the game, Sixers center Joel Embiid is optimistic about his team's chances of slowing down the young All-Star in the next outing.
“He made a few shots, and he got hot early," Embiid said in regards to Young after the game. "He came in off a few pick-and-rolls. Right after that, we made adjustments, which kind of slowed him down a little bit with small guards setting the screen, trapping it, and getting the ball out of his hands. It worked out better than it did the first half, so that’s something that we can look at."
Slowing Trae Young down is just half the battle. While Young is surely the Hawks' best weapon, they still have many talented shooters in his supporting cast. However, if the Sixers can figure out how to slow Young down early and prevent getting off to another slow start in Game 2, they won't have to spend too much time playing keep up and have a much better shot at controlling Game 2.