It wasn't pretty.
But the Atlanta Hawks got the job done on Sunday, disposing of the Philadelphia 76ers, 103-96 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. With the win, the Hawks secured their second straight series upset to earn an unlikely berth in the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.
They did so as Trae Young watched shot after shot clang off the rim. But Atlanta leaned on Kevin Huerter on offense and flustered 76ers players in a grind of a game that saw Philadelphia struggle to generate offense.
While Young failed throughout the game to connect from the field, he hit a 3-pointer inside three minutes remaining to extend Atlanta's lead to 93-87 and made critical free throws down the stretch as the 76ers were forced to foul. The game was a close affair from the opening tip with both teams repeatedly trading the lead until Atlanta controlled the final five minutes.
Huerter led the Hawks' effort with 27 points and seven rebounds while connecting on 10-of-18 shots from the field. Young finished with 21 points and 10 assists on a 5-of-23 shooting night that saw him connect on just 2-of-11 3-point attempts. Ten of his 21 points arrived in the final quarter.
More postseason disappointment for 76ers
For Philadelphia, it's another agonizing playoff exit falling well short of the expectations of a No. 1 seed. The 76ers left the home floor of the Wells Fargo Center to a chorus of boos from a frustrated Philadelphia fanbase.
Joel Embiid led the 76ers with 31 points and 11 rebounds. He also committed eight of Philadelphia's 17 turnovers. Tobias Harris was Philadelphia's second-leading scorer with 24 points alongside 14 rebounds and four assists. He shot just 8-of-24 from the field, a line that includes multiple misses near the basket down the stretch.
Ben Simmons benched in final minute
The well-documented struggles of Ben Simmons continued on Sunday, as he attempted just four field-goal attempts, hitting two in a five-point, 13-assist, eight-rebound effort. Given an opportunity for a baseline layup in the game's final minutes, Simmons instead passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle.
Ben Simmons did not just pass this up... pic.twitter.com/4JyM7ZHNkJ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2021
When the Hawks again started to employ a strategy of fouling Simmons late, head coach Doc Rivers removed him from the game in the final moments as he remained a liability on offense. He connected on one of his two free-throw attempts before finding his way to the bench for good with 54 seconds remaining.
The Hawks will get two days off before traveling to Milwaukee for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday, where the Bucks open as -500 betting favorites to win the series.
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