Kevin Huerter scored a playoff career-high 27 points, Trae Young added 21 points and 10 assists and the fifth-seeded Atlanta Hawks stunned the host Philadelphia 76ers 103-96 in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals on Sunday night.
Young shot a lowly 5 of 23 from the field, but made a couple of clutch shots down the stretch. John Collins had 14 points and 16 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari had 17 points and Clint Capela 13 for the Hawks, who reached the conference finals for the first time since 2015.
Remarkably, the Hawks won three games in Philadelphia this series.
Joel Embiid led the top-seeded Sixers with 31 points and 11 rebounds yet committed eight turnovers. Tobias Harris added 24 points and 14 rebounds, Seth Curry had 16 points and Ben Simmons contributed 13 assists.
The Sixers haven’t reached the conference finals since 2001.
The Hawks led 48-46 at halftime thanks in large part to Huerter’s 12 points, despite Young shooting just 1 of 12 in the first two quarters.
Embiid had 15 points but committed four turnovers and appeared to tweak his injured right knee shortly before halftime.
The game was tight throughout the third as the Hawks moved out to a 64-63 advantage with 4:45 left after a tough jumper by Huerter.
Matisse Thybulle scored four late points in the period, but the Hawks closed the third strong and led 76-71.
Embiid scored the first five points of the fourth — a jumper and a 3-pointer — to tie the game at 76 with 10:37 to go.
The Hawks missed their first nine shots of the fourth but still only trailed 81-77 as the Sixers failed to capitalise. Gallinari then connected on a crucial trey to end the drought and close the Hawks within one.
When Young drove to the basket and scored with 5:11 left, the Hawks took an 86-84 lead.
Embiid responded with a jumper to tie the game at 86 as the clock ticked down to around 4 minutes. But soon after Young finally found his range and drained a deep 30-footer with 2:31 to go to give the Hawks a 93-87 lead.
Philadelphia went on a 5-0 run to close within one with just over a minute remaining. Huerter was then fouled on a three-pointer by Thybulle and without breaking a sweat dropped in all three to make it 96-92 with 54 seconds left.
On perhaps their last chance to save the series, Embiid was stripped at the free throw line by Gallinari, who then took the return pass from Huerter for a wide open dunk.
From there, all the Sixers could do was foul as the Hawks cruised to a historic victory – their first as a franchise on the road in a Game 7. They will now face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.