MILWAUKEE — The Atlanta Hawks can play at home, they can play on the road and, just a hunch, they’ll play games at the park.
They like playing basketball, they like having fun, and they like playing basketball while having fun.
Atlanta defeated Milwaukee 116-113 on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Clint Capela’s putback after a Trae Young miss gave the Hawks a 112-111 lead with 29.8 seconds left in the game. Young’s four free throws in the final 17.3 second secured the victory.
Atlanta erased a seven-point deficit in the final four minutes. As they proved against Philadelphia in the conference semifinals, the Hawks just keep playing regardless of score.
"Well, again, we've been in this position many times," Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said. "Seven-point game is really a three-possession game. We felt that we know what we need to do. We need to get stops and we need to execute and score. They did another solid job of executing down the stretch, again, finding that matchup.
Young scored a playoff career-high 48 points and added 11 assists — the fiftime in his postseason debut he has had at least 25 points and 10 assists. On one made 3-point attempt, he found himself wide open, shimmied and then made the shot.
Young was 17-for-34 from the field even though he was just 4-of-13 on 3-pointers.
"What I respect about Trae, he's going to always stay aggressive," McMillan said. "He continued to stay aggressive and take his shots, and tonight those shots were falling for him. I thought he did a good job of, again, reading the defense and getting the ball and putting the ball in the hands of guys who had their matchups."
John Collins added 23 points and 15 rebounds. Collins' corner 3-pointer with 1:39 left in the fourth help Atlanta steal a game on the road. Young and Solomon Hill missed 3s on the possession but the Hawks had two offensive rebounds. Young found Collins. Instead of a four-point game with Milwaukee able to run time off the clock, Atlanta trimmed the Bucks' lead to 111-110.
The Bucks wasted strong games from Giannis Antetokounmpo (34 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists) and Jrue Holiday (33 points, 10 assists).
The Hawks’ won their sixth road game of the 2021 NBA playoffs, including three Game 1s on the road this season — at New York, at Philadelphia, at Milwaukee.
"I felt we built ourselves to be able to play on the road," McMillan said. "I've told them that they're built for this.
Whether the Hawks are just too young to understand the gravity of the moment or they’re just mature enough to embrace it, they are in this series for the long haul and perhaps beyond.
If there was a hangover from both teams playing in a Game 7 in the conference semifinals, it showed up only on 3-pointers, where both teams struggled. Neither team shot better than 25% from 3 — a combined 16-for-68.
Game 2 is Friday in Milwaukee (8:30 p.m., TNT).
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.