The Atlanta Hawks gave themselves a ray of hope by defeating the Boston Celtics 130-122 on Friday night to narrow the series deficit to 2-1. Trae Young scored 32 points in his finest game of the playoffs.
With 2 minutes and 21 seconds left, Young made a step-back 3-pointer from the corner, and with 45 seconds left, he made another big goal on a floater in the lane after Jaylen Brown missed a 3-point attempt that would have knotted the game for the Celtics.
In Game 4 against the second-seeded Celtics on Sunday night at State Farm Arena, the seventh-seeded Hawks will attempt to even the series.
In the first two games of the series, Boston was hardly tested as Jayson Tatum led the way with 29 points.
After missing only 14 of his 40 shots in Beantown, Young came under criticism. In Game 3, he connected on 12 of his 22 efforts, scoring 12 goals and dishing out nine assists.
Dejounte Murray scored 25 points for the Hawks in yet another strong performance. His 3-pointer with 1:40 left in the game helped Atlanta hold onto its slim advantage.
The Celtics cruised to a series of 13-point victory in the first two games in Boston, but the Hawks eventually put up a fight.
Derrick White’s early benching due to two fast fouls allowed the Hawks to capitalise on a weakness in the Boston defence and establish a lead. In the first period, Atlanta made 30 out of 46 attempts (65.2%).
Standing-room-only fans helped the Hawks build a 14-point lead late in the first half, which was their largest of the series. The Celtics answered again with eight consecutive baskets, but they entered the locker room behind 74-67.
Atlanta has not previously defeated Boston this year. All three regular-season encounters were lost by the Hawks.
KNICKS 99, CAVALIERS 79: Jalen Brunson scored 21 points, RJ Barrett snapped out of a scoring slump with 19, and New York thrashed Cleveland at Madison Square Garden to grab a 2-1 lead in the opening-round series.
By being the first team to allow less than 80 points during the regular season or playoffs, the Knicks successfully recovered from their defeat in Game 2.