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.
Young scored a playoff career-high 48 points and added 11 assists — the sixth time 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.
“Trae, we want him to be aggressive,” Hawks interim coach Nate McMillan said before the game. “He’s very capable of knocking down the shots that he takes, and it really forces the defense to have to stretch their defense when guarding him.
“So he is a guy that really establishes our tempo and our style of play, so we want him to be aggressive, and when he feels that he has a good look, we want our guys to shoot the ball. We don’t want hesitation. We want all of our guys to be aggressive out on the floor.”
Young was 17-for-34 from the field even though he was just 4-of-13 on 3-pointers. John Collins added 23 points and 15 rebounds.
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.
“What it comes down to is basketball — you’re still playing basketball,” McMillan said. “We have talked about that. It’s still basketball. … You’ve been doing this all season long, and what we need to do at this time is do what we’ve been doing and do it better. And they have been able to do that.”
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.