Against all odds, the No. 5 seed Hawks came back from a 26-point deficit to beat the No. 1 seed 76ers, 109-106, in Game 5 Wednesday in Philadelphia. They take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Next up, Game 6 will be back in Atlanta on Friday.

Below are some takeaways from the win:

1. Philly’s 26-point lead with 8:31 to play in the third quarter, it turns out, wasn’t remotely safe (76ers starters were pulled toward the end of the third). Lou Williams led a comeback charge in a sensational fourth quarter and seven straight points from Trae Young gave the Hawks their first lead of the game, 104-103, with 1:26 to play. John Collins had a clutch block on Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari hit a fadeaway and Joel Embiid missed two free throws — basically, every single thing went right for the Hawks in the final period, after three disastrous quarters, and the Sixers utterly collapsed. The Hawks won the fourth, 40-19, shooting 72.7% from the field after shooting 36.5% through the first three.

“Just no quit in these guys… We always talk about playing a 48-minute game,” interim coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s a long game and it took all 48 minutes tonight to get it done.”

2. A year after finishing 20-47 and three-and-a-half months after starting the season 14-20, the Hawks continue to surge under McMillan and crush their preseason goal of simply making the playoffs. Up 3-2 in the series, they now have the opportunity to close it out at home in Game 6 Friday and advance to the conference finals. The Hawks barely played any national TV games in the regular season and did not have a player named to any NBA award categories/teams. As they continue to battle well in the playoffs, their star has risen considerably.

“When you talk about underdogs, for a team that has no All-Stars, no All-Defensive players, no All-NBA players, this team is fighting,” Young said. “We’re in the second round of the playoffs and I think we’ve just had that chip on our shoulder all year of being overlooked.”

3. Williams had 13 points (6-8 FG, 1-3 from 3-point range) in the fourth quarter alone to light a spark in the Hawks, who were completely beaten down by the 76ers in the first three quarters. He finished with 15 points, three assists, two rebounds and two steals in 22 minutes, and ended up as a plus-31, with how he helped swing the game late.

4. Young also had 13 points in the fourth quarter, playing alongside Williams for much of that final stretch. He had a game-high 39 points (10-23 FG, 2-6 FT, 17-19 FT), to go with seven assists, three steals and two turnovers. It’s the fifth time on this 10-game playoff run that Young has reached the 30-point mark, and he showed poise down the stretch to help the Hawks finish off the comeback.

5. Outside of Embiid (37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, four blocks, five turnovers, two steals) and Seth Curry (36 points, seven rebounds, two steals), who both had phenomenal nights before catastrophe in the fourth, the 76ers didn’t have another player score in double-digits. After a slow start, the Hawks eventually had four players do so: Young (39), John Collins (19 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks), Williams (15) and Gallinari (16 points, eight rebounds). Only three Philly players scored in the fourth quarter: Curry with 11, Embiid with six and Ben Simmons with two.

Stat of the game

11 (amount of assists the Hawks tallied in the second half, with better ball movement, after only managing three in the first half)

Star of the game

Williams (sparked the Hawks’ comeback with 13 points in the fourth quarter)


“If you don’t believe, you better believe now.” (McMillan on his message to the team after the win)

About the Author