Clint Capela scored the go-ahead hoop with 29.8 seconds remaining, and Trae Young capped a 48-point performance with four subsequent free throws, allowing the Atlanta Hawks to stun the host Milwaukee Bucks 116-113 in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night.
The third-seeded and heavily favoured Bucks went the final 2:08 without a field goal, missing their last five shots, including wayward 3-point attempts by Pat Connaughton and Khris Middleton, to allow Atlanta to rally from a four-point deficit and tip off its third straight playoff series with a win on the road.
Young’s 48 points came on 17-for-34 shooting from the field (4-for-13 on 3-pointers). He completed a double-double with a game-high 11 assists.
Capela and John Collins also recorded double-doubles for the Hawks. Capela had 12 points and a game-high 19 rebounds, while Collins added 23 points and 15 boards.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 34 points to complement a team-high 12 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday poured in 33 points to go with a team-high 10 assists for the Bucks, who led 111-107 after an Antetokounmpo alley-oop off a Holiday assist with 2:08 to play.
Collins countered with a 3-pointer to get the Hawks within one, after which Capela grabbed Young’s errant floater and laid it in for a 112-111 lead with 29.8 seconds to go.
The Bucks’ only points after that came on two Antetokounmpo free throws with 5.3 seconds left, but they were sandwiched by a pair of Young 2-for-2 efforts at the line.
Kevin Huerter had 13 points for the Hawks, who won despite shooting just 8-for-32 on 3-pointers.
Middleton shot 6-for-23 on a 15-point night for Milwaukee, while Bobby Portis chipped in 11 points off the bench.
Young’s most impressive stretch occurred after Antetokounmpo had given Milwaukee a 65-58 lead in the second minute of the third period.
Over the course of the next eight minutes, the third-year standout had two 3-pointers, three 2-pointers and three assists, including an off-the-backboard alley-oop to Collins in a 28-13 flurry that flipped the score in Atlanta’s favour, 86-78.
The Bucks chipped away, finally drawing even at 98-all on an Antetokounmpo alley-oop from Middleton with 5:25 to go.
Young had 25 of his 48 points in the first half, but they weren’t enough to prevent Milwaukee from going into the break with a 59-54 lead.
Unbeaten in five home games in their first two series, the Bucks led for most of the half, including 34-25 after opening the second period with consecutive hoops by Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Connaughton.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Friday, also at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.