Trae Young carries Hawks to Game 5 comeback win over Celtics

BOSTON -- The Celtics looked poised to put the series away halfway through the fourth quarter Tuesday night. But the Hawks and Trae Young had another idea in mind. The Hawks went on a 17-6 run in the final five minutes of the game to force the Celtics to a Game 6 in their first-round playoff series with a 119-117 win.

Here are five observations:

1. In a win-or-go-home Game 5, Young put the team on his back.

Young scored 14 of his 16 fourth-quarter points in the final 3:18 despite the Celtics holding a 13-point lead just three minutes before. Even though the Celtics blocked five of his shot attempts, Young’s confidence never wavered and he came alive down the stretch.

He fired off a pair of 3s, one of which came off a steal, that tied the game at 111 with 2:42 remaining. Despite missing a 3, he tried to drive to the lane then drew a foul from Al Horford on a layup attempt. Then officials assessed Jayson Tatum for a technical foul and Young knocked down all three free throws to give the Hawks a 114-113 lead.

He hit another pair of free throws before getting called for a blocking foul on Derrick White that the Hawks unsuccessfully challenged. But Young came back with a 30-foot 3-pointer to give the Hawks the winning margin with 2.8 seconds to play.

“Trae put us on his back in the fourth quarter,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “(But) I think he’d be the first one to tell you that this was about our team. And it was because we got contributions across the board in lots of different ways.”

2. Young, who scored 38 points and had 13 assists, got a helping hand from John Collins. The 25-year-old has been having trouble getting going on the offensive end, but found his rhythm. Collins gave the Hawks a scoring punch in the absence of guard Dejounte Murray.

Collins scored 22 points Tuesday after averaging 7.5 points on 32.4% shooting from the floor and 21.1% shooting from 3. But those struggles didn’t phase him and he knocked down 4-of-9 attempts from 3.

With 5:52 in the game, Collins’ fourth 3 sparked the Hawks’ run down the stretch. He scored seven points in a two-minute span.

3. The Hawks had the odds stacked against them coming into the night, down 3-1 in the series against the No. 2 seed. Coupled with the absence of Murray, who missed Game 5 while serving a suspension, the Hawks seemed to have slim chances to down the Celtics.

The Hawks were set as 13-point underdogs and the Celtics had never lost a playoff game as a double-digit favorite.

But the Hawks, who struggled to make plays down the stretch in Game 4, did what they needed to do in Game 5. They dove for loose balls, deflected balls out of bounds and challenged the Celtics any way they could.

“I think sometimes the game is about making plays, and we got our hands on a couple of balls, came up with some rebounds, you know, 50-50 balls -- you know Trae tipped one, on a rebound,” Snyder said. “Offensively, we played at a good tempo.”

4. Ahead of the game, Snyder addressed that the Hawks would have to adjust their rotations with Murray out of the game. He acknowledged that the Celtics’ depth gave them a lot of liberty to throw out different rotations over the course of the game. But Snyder wanted to make sure that the Hawks didn’t let the Celtics dictate their flow.

So, the Hawks looked to be nimble. Traditionally the Hawks would sub Clint Capela back into the game midway through the fourth quarter. Tuesday, though, third-year center Onyeka Okongwu played the entire quarter until Capela subbed in for the final .5 seconds.

“I think that’s the playoffs,” Snyder said. “And that’s something I think our guys are beginning to understand more.”

5. The Hawks know that the Celtics will try to put the series away on Thursday. Snyder said the team won’t necessarily flush Tuesday’s win but that they have to remain prepped for the task ahead.

The Celtics jumped on the Hawks early in Game 4 following the Hawks’ convincing win in Game 3.

“We’re still in an elimination phase,” Young said. “If we lose one, we’re done. So we got to keep that same energy and be ready to play when we get back home.”

Stat to know

2 - Trae Young’s go-ahead 3 was the second time a player made a 30-plus-foot go-ahead shot in the final five seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime in a playoff game in the last 25 seasons. He joins Damian Lillard, who made a 36-footer to eliminate the Thunder in Game 5 of the first round in 2019, per ESPN.


“I just had to trust in what I’ve done my whole life and just shoot with confidence.” -- Young on his winning shot

Up next

The Hawks return to State Farm Arena to host the Celtics in Game 6 on Thursday at 8:30 p.m.