Kevin Huerter scored a career-high 27 points in the playoffs, Trae Young added 21 points and 10 assists and the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks surprised the Philadelphia 76ers host 103-96 in the Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday night.
Young shot a modest 5 of 23 from the field, but took a few clutch shots down the home stretch. John Collins had 14 points and 16 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari had 17 points and Clint Capela 13 for the Hawks, who reached the conference final for the first time since 2015.
Remarkably, the Hawks have won three games in Philadelphia this series.
Joel Embiid led the seeded Sixers with 31 points and 11 rebounds but committed eight turnovers. Tobias Harris added 24 points and 14 rebounds, Seth Curry had 16 points and Ben Simmons contributed 13 assists.
The Sixers haven’t reached the conference finals since 2001.
The Hawks were leading 48-46 at halftime thanks in large part to Huerter’s 12 points, despite Young shooting just 1 of 12 in the first two quarters.
Embiid had 15 points but made four turnovers and appeared to twist his injured right knee shortly before half-time.
The game was close throughout the third as the Hawks took the 64-63 lead with 4:45 left after a tough jumper from Huerter.
Matisse Thybulle scored four points late in the period, but the Hawks closed out the third strong to lead 76-71.
Embiid scored the first five points from the fourth – a jumper and a 3-pointer – to tie the game at 76 with 10:37 to go.
The Hawks missed their first nine shots in the fourth, but were still only led 81-77 as the Sixers failed to capitalize. Gallinari then logged on to a crucial tree to end the drought and close the Hawks to less than one.
When Young walked over to the basket and scored with 5:11 left, the Hawks took an 86-84 lead.
Embiid responded with a jumper to tie the game at 86 as the clock ticked down at around 4 minutes. But soon after, Young finally found his range and drained a depth of 30 feet with 2:31 to go to give the Hawks a 93-87 lead.
Philadelphia started a 5-0 streak to close with just over a minute to go. Huerter was then fouled on a three-point shot from Thybulle and without breaking a sweat he fell in all three to make the score 96-92 with 54 seconds left.
On perhaps their last chance to save the series, Embiid was stripped of the free throw line by Gallinari, who then took Huerter’s return pass for a wide open dunk.
From there, all the Sixers could do was foul as the Hawks headed for a historic victory – their first as a franchise on the road in a Game 7. They will now face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Finals. of the Eastern Conference.