Los Angeles – Kevin Huerter scored a playoff career-high 27 points as the upstart Atlanta Hawks punched their ticket to their first Eastern Conference finals in six years on Sunday, with a 103-96 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 of their semifinal series.
All-star Trae Young finished with 21 points and 10 assists, John Collins had 14 points and 16 rebounds and Danilo Gallinari came off the bench to score 17 points for the Hawks, who won three games in Philadelphia to take the series 4-3.
“Winning Game 7 is a treat for us,” said Huerter. “We are a little naive. We always believe we can win.”
The Hawks will now face the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of their series on Wednesday as both NBA conference finals are now set. The Phoenix Suns have a 1-0 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference final.
The Hawks, who dispatched the New York Knicks in five games in the opening round, needed a balanced offense in Sunday’s winner-take-all contest, and 22-year-old Huerter needed to shoot well because of all the injuries in their lineup — they were without De’Andre Hunter, who had a right knee injury.
After the game Young slipped off his jersey and went up into the stands at Wells Fargo Arena to hand it to his father for Father’s Day.
“A winning jersey. I wanted to win it for my dad,” he said.
Joel Embiid scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Sixers.
But he also committed eight turnovers, including a key wobble with 41 seconds left in the fourth.
Tobias Harris added 24 points and 14 rebounds, Seth Curry had 16 points and Ben Simmons contributed 13 assists in the loss.
“We felt like this was going to be our year. It sucks. There is a lot to regret,” Embiid said.
Elsewhere, Devin Booker delivered a 40-point triple-double as the Suns shook off some playoff rust to beat the fourth-seeded Clippers 120-114 in the opening game of the West finals earlier Sunday.
Booker also had 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double as the Suns won despite the absence of all-star guard Chris Paul, who has been quarantining due to the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“I’m just going out there to win every game possible,” Booker said. “I’ve been saying this since the start of the playoffs — every next game is the biggest game.”
The Suns’ Jae Crowder said it was fitting that Booker put on a show in front of the crowd of 16,583 at Phoenix Suns Arena.
“I expect it. I know the type of player he is,” Crowder said.
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