NBA

NBA playoffs 2021: Trae Young relishes role of villain as Hawks eliminate Knicks

By Sports Desk June 03, 2021

Trae Young relished his starring role as the Atlanta Hawks beat the New York Knicks 103-89 to secure progression to the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Wednesday.

Young had been targeted by fans throughout the first-round playoff series, even being spat on by one of them during Game 2.

He was given a frosty reception again at Madison Square Garden this time around, with certain chants aimed at the 22-year-old, but Young had the last laugh.

In the final minute as Knicks fans rose to give their team one last ovation with Hawks cruising to a comfortable win that ultimately eliminated the hosts, Young sunk a three-pointer before bowing at the centre of the court and waving goodbye to the crowd.

The cheers quickly turned back to jeers.

"I know where we are. I know it's a bunch of shows around this city," Young said afterwards. "And I know what they do when the show is over.

"It feels good. Like I said since the beginning of the season, I feel like I've worked my whole life for this moment, to play in the playoffs on the biggest stage.

"I put in a lot of work. A lot of the guys who have been here have done the same. It feels good to win it. It feels good to win the series. Now we get to focus on the second round."

Young played a leading role for the Hawks, his 36 points and nine assists both highs for the match.

On top of that, his consistency throughout the series has undoubtedly been important for the Hawks, with Young averaging 29.2 points and 9.8 assists each game, while also getting the winning points in Game 1.

He ends the series with 146 points, which is the seventh-best playoff hall in the NBA since the 1976-77 ABA-NBA merger, and his team-mate John Collins suggested the Knicks crowd chose the wrong man to pick on.

"Trae loves this stuff," he said. "He's in the gym grinding. You see him pandering and playing to the crowd.

"Certain guys get motivated and find their reason and extra motivation to play based off the crowd. The crowd does give you energy.

"Trae loves to use that negative energy and use it as fuel for him. For whatever fans who want to keep antagonising that man, please go right ahead. It's not going to bother him, and we've got his back as well."

The Hawks will face top seeds Philadelphia 76ers in the next round.

Related items

  • Suns coach Monty Williams grateful to share 'career highlight' with Chris Paul Suns coach Monty Williams grateful to share 'career highlight' with Chris Paul

    Phoenix Suns coach Monty Williams is grateful to have shared a career highlight with Chris Paul after securing a place in the Western Conference Finals.

    Second-seeded Suns beat the Denver Nuggets 125-118 on Sunday to seal a 4-0 series win in the Western Conference semi-finals, with newly crowned MVP Nikola Jokic ejected for a flagrant 2 foul in the third quarter.

    Vital for the Suns were the contributions of Paul and Devin Booker, who accounted for 71 of their total points – the former top-scoring with 37.

    Williams wrapped Paul in a warm hug at the end, the two sharing a bond from their days working together at the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Paul was also there for Williams when the coach lost his wife in 2016, and for the latter, the current successes mean that much more when shared with someone so important.

    "The emotions are happy, grateful, tired, relieved," Williams said. "It's one of those moments for me that quite frankly I never thought I'd have a chance to experience. For me, I have a level of gratitude I can't even explain."

    He added: "Chris has meant so much to my career, he's meant so much to my life. The darkest moment of my life Chris was right there and one of the highlights of my career, he's right there.

    "That's where it is right now. I'm not really good at waxing eloquent about how I feel other than just telling you I just feel grateful for this opportunity and to be on this team and in this moment and have a chance to move forward."

    The feeling was mutual for Paul, who was similarly delighted to be on such a road with Williams given their close bond.

    "Monty has been through things in his life that a lot of people don't necessarily come back from," Paul said.

    "Basketball aside, he means so much to me and my family. So, to be on this journey with him and to see it paying off is nice.

    "We're a lot alike. We stay locked in. I don't feel good until the buzzer sounds. Monty's the same way. When the series is over, and the game is over, it's nice to share those moments."

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Jokic's ejection leaves MVP and both teams 'shocked' as Nuggets suffer sweep NBA playoffs 2021: Jokic's ejection leaves MVP and both teams 'shocked' as Nuggets suffer sweep

    NBA MVP Nikola Jokic did not expect to be ejected as the Denver Nuggets were swept from the playoffs in a controversial decision that surprised head coach Michael Malone and Phoenix Suns counterpart Monty Williams.

    Jokic was tossed in the third quarter of Denver's 125-118 defeat to the second-seeded Suns, who sealed a 4-0 series victory in the Western Conference semi-finals on Sunday.

    Crowned MVP on Tuesday, Jokic was assessed a flagrant two foul following a lengthy review after taking a swing at Suns guard Cameron Payne in Game 4.

    Jokic became the first MVP swept in a postseason series since Magic Johnson in 1989 and the Serbian star discussed the incident post-game.

    "I wanted to change the rhythm of the game, I wanted to give us some energy, maybe change the whistle a little bit, so I wanted to make a hard foul," Jokic said.

    "Did I hit him [Payne], did I not hit him? We don't know. So I say sorry if I did because I did not want to injure him or hit him in the head on purpose. I thought honestly they would not eject me."

    "I shouldn't do that. Of course it was my bad. I'm sorry," Jokic said. "But I cannot change it now. It happens."

    Already facing an uphill task to avoid elimination, Jokic's absence made life even tougher for the third-seeded Nuggets as Suns duo Chris Paul and Devin Booker dominated.

    "I just didn't feel like it warranted a flagrant two ejection because he's making a play on the ball," said Malone.

    "There's marginal contact to Cameron Payne's nose I believe. So I was shocked, I'm still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant two and ejected the MVP on such a play."

    "From my vantage point and watching the replay, I did not think it was a non-basketball play with malicious intent," Malone said.

    "I think it was a frustration foul, Nikola probably felt the last couple plays when he had the ball he had not received a foul call. And he went over there to take a foul. Which he has done plenty of times. A lot of players do that."

    "I didn't really think it was anything malicious," said Williams. "In those moments you have to regulate your emotions. That's what we've been talking about all season long.''

    Jokic and Suns All-Star Booker were involved in a confrontation following the incident as a scuffle briefly broke out.

    But Booker – whose Suns reached the Conference Finals for the first time since 2009-10 – said: "That's all I said, just 'What are you doing?' It's just an emotional play. I don't think he meant harm by it. Just a frustration foul. It's tough, just defending my team-mate, that was it.

    "I've played against the Joker multiple times. I know he's not a malicious player."

  • NBA playoffs 2021: Suns sweep Nuggets after Jokic ejection, Giannis' Bucks level Nets series NBA playoffs 2021: Suns sweep Nuggets after Jokic ejection, Giannis' Bucks level Nets series

    The Phoenix Suns advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2009-10 after sweeping Nikola Jokic's Denver Nuggets 4-0 in the NBA playoffs.

    Suns duo Devin Booker and Chris Paul flexed their muscles in a 125-118 victory over the Nuggets in Game 4 as MVP Jokic was ejected on Sunday.

    Jokic (22 points and 11 rebounds), who earned his first MVP accolade on Tuesday, was assessed a flagrant two foul after his foul on Phoenix's Cameron Payne in the third quarter.

    That made life difficult for the third-seeded Nuggets – already missing star Jamal Murray due to injury – as the Suns rolled into the Conference Finals for the first time in more than a decade.

    Paul produced a vintage performance with a game-high 37 points, while Booker put up 34 points and 11 rebounds for the second-seeded Suns, who are the only team to knock out both the previous season's conference finalists in the opening two rounds since the NBA playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1984 per Stats Perform.

    The Eastern Conference semi-final matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets is deadlocked at 2-2 after Giannis Antetokounmpo starred.

    Antetokounmpo posted a double-double to lead the Bucks past the second-seeded Nets 107-96 in Game 4.

    Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo had a game-high 34 points and 12 rebounds as the Bucks topped the Nets, who lost All-Star Kyrie Irving to injury.

    Irving – who had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes of action – twisted his right ankle after coming down on Antetokounmpo's foot, having scored from close range in the second quarter.

    The seven-time All-Star received treatment on the court before walking to the locker room. The Nets later ruled him out for the remainder of the contest as the third-ranked Bucks took advantage.

    Kevin Durant led the way for the Nets with 28 points but was stifled by the Bucks' physical defensive play.

     

    76ers at Hawks

    The top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers visit the Atlanta Hawks for Game 4 on Monday, leading the Eastern Conference semi-final series 2-1. Utah Jazz – the top seed in the west – are also in action against the Los Angeles Clippers in their Western Conference second-round Game 4.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.