NBA

Trae Young finds 'rhythm' to earn Hawks playoffs lifeline

By Sports Desk April 22, 2023

Atlanta Hawks coach Quin Snyder applauded Trae Young for finding his "rhythm" after a wretched run to inspire Friday's win over the Boston Celtics.

The Hawks won their Eastern Conference first-round Game 3 clash 130-122 to prevent Boston going 3-0 ahead, which would have left them needing just one more win for a series sweep.

Young had previously shot a combined of 14-of-40 (35 per cent) from the field across the first two games of the series.

But on Friday he scored a team-high 32 points on 12-of-22 shooting, adding nine assists, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal, while his All-Star backcourt teammate Dejounte Murray chipped in 25 points (11-of-21 shooting), six rebounds and five assists.

Although it was arguably the Hawks' bench who got them over the line – with Onyeka Okongwu, Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson and Bogdan Bogdanovic combining to shoot 16-of-22 (72.7 per cent) from the field for 44 points – much of the post-game focus was on Young and Murray, who finally seemed to flourish together.

Young in particular has had a difficult time of it, especially in the playoffs – for Snyder, there was an element of just sitting back and letting things unfold as the two-time All-Star and Murray took matters into their own hands.

"First of all, [it was] kind of figuring out what they were thinking together playing off each other," Snyder said when asked about Young and Murray's on-court chatter.

"At one point, I was like, I should just be quiet. Usually when that's happening, as a coach, if you feel that and you respect those guys and they are communicating like that and if they're on the same page, people will play off of them. That's what happened us.

"That's when we're going to be playing our best basketball."

That certainly seemed the case on Friday, with the hard work appearing to pay off for Young.

"Those two guys, over the course of the game, not just with the other guys on the team, but with one another, were connecting and pushing one another," Snyder added.

"You could tell [Young] found a rhythm, and it was good to see that because he's been working on it. He's been watching [film] and trying to figure out how he can attack somebody.

"The message, as much as anything for him and the whole group, is just to stay aggressive and trying to make the right play.

"[Young] got a little down when he turned it over one time and he was shaking his head, and I just said, 'Let’s get to the next play.' I don't want him thinking about what just happened. Every mistake can make you better if you just process it the right way. You can tell he found his rhythm tonight."

Murray was in no doubt about it being his and Young's best performance as a duo.

"Absolutely. I don't want to talk about Boston a lot but I look at Jayson [Tatum] and Jaylen [Brown] a lot, two guys who were going through it a lot, just to get to the level they're at. Great things don't happen overnight. Great things take time."

Young seemingly disagreed to an extent but acknowledged there being a timeliness to his and Murray's link-up.

"You don't want to live in the moment too much," he said. "I mean, we won a game in the playoffs, it's big, but we've had some really good games together.

"I don't consider this our best game together. It's definitely one of them, but it came at the right time and we needed it."

The Hawks can level the series with a win in Game 4 on Sunday.

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