Atlanta’s Trae Young goes up for a shot in front of Philadelphia’s Matisse Thybulle during Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday night in Philadelphia. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks are taking their stunning turnaround to the Eastern Conference finals.

Young made a late 3-pointer and scored 21 points to help Atlanta win for the third time in the series in Philadelphia, a 103-96 victory over the top-seeded 76ers on Sunday night in Game 7.

The Hawks will open their first East finals since 2015 against the Bucks on Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

Atlanta had been 0-9 in Games 7s on the road.

But the Hawks ignored their ignominious history and got another victory in Philly, where they already won in Game 1 and Game 5.

Not even the Hawks could have seen this coming when they were in 11th place in the Eastern Conference in March with a 14-20 record and fired coach Lloyd Pierce.

Under replacement Nate McMillan, the Hawks turned into birds of prey and Young led a charge into the postseason for the first time since 2017 that kept rolling with a first-round win over New York.

Joel Embiid, the NBA MVP runner-up, Ben Simmons and a high-priced cast of stars were supposed to put the upstart Hawks in their place. It never happened.

Young shook off an otherwise off night from the floor and kept shooting until he hit that 3 for a 93-87 lead with 2:31 left in the game.

Kevin Huerter, who led the Hawks with 27 points, sealed the win with three free throws, and the packed house of 18,624 fell as silent as it was when the season opened without any fans.

Sixers fans let the home team have it and booed them off the court. They were reprimanded by the public address announcer for throwing trash on the court.

Embiid scored 31 points.

This marked only the second year since 1973 – when the NBA began seeding for the playoffs by conference – when neither No. 1 seed will make the conference finals. West No. 1 seed Utah was eliminated by the Clippers.

SUNS 120, CLIPPERS 114: Devin Booker had 40 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his first career triple-double and = Phoenix overcame Chris Paul’s absence to win at home in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Paul sat out because of COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Clippers star Kawhi Leonard missed his third straight game because of a sprained right knee.

Tied at 93 to start the fourth, the Suns went on a 12-2 run and pulled ahead 105-95 on Cam Johnson’s dunk with 8:08 remaining. The Clippers wouldn’t go away, though, cutting a 10-point deficit in the final two minutes to 116-114 when Terance Mann hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left.

Booker scored on a dunk on the next possession to seal Phoenix’s seventh straight victory, getting a free lane to the basket on the blown defensive coverage.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Booker was productive and efficient in one of his best games of his career. He shot 15 of 29 from the field, carving apart a defense that had to play just 36 hours after closing out the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

The third quarter featured a stellar scoring duel between Booker and L.A.’s Paul George, who finished with 34 points. Booker scored 18 points in the quarter and George had 15, including a 3-pointer that tied it at 93 heading to the fourth.

The Suns led 76-68 midway through the third, but George scored eight straight points – including two long 3-pointers – to tie it up. It was the start of a 16-2 run that helped Los Angeles take an 84-78 lead.

Booker and the Suns responded quickly. Booker scored 12 points – mostly on mid-range jumpers – in the final 3:09 of the third to get Phoenix back on track.

Deandre Ayton had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Suns. Cameron Payne started for Paul and had 11 points and nine assists.


BUCKS 115, NETS 111: Once they could finally get off the court, the Milwaukee Bucks feasted their eyes on a welcome sight in the locker room.

The No. 8 on their board signified the number of victories remaining to win a championship, following a sweep of Miami followed by a survival against Brooklyn.

“I’m really happy for what we got done. I’m really happy we were able to write 8 on the board. But the job is not done,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said.

“We’ve got to keep believing in ourselves. We’ve got to keep playing good basketball and take it game by game. The job is not done. We’re halfway through.”

They got there by edging the Nets 115-111 on Saturday night in the first Game 7 to go overtime since 2006. Antetokounmpo had 40 points and 13 rebounds, and Khris Middleton made the tie-breaking shot with 40 seconds left in OT.

The third-seeded Bucks advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in three years. They will play either top-seeded Philadelphia or No. 5 Atlanta in a series that starts Wednesday.

The Bucks overcame Kevin Durant’s 48 points in Game 7 and are ready for whoever comes next.

“To be able to finally get over the hump against him is pretty nice. I’m excited,” forward P.J. Tucker said. “We’re just getting started, though. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”


76ERS: Philadelphia center Joel Embiid was fined $35,000 by the NBA for escalating an on-court altercation in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Atlanta.

Embiid fell on top of John Collins, who then shoved Embiid before both rose to their feet. Embiid had his arms stretched out wide with Collins’ hands around his neck as both walked off the court under the basket.

Officials reviewed the altercation and called technical fouls on each player with no free throws awarded.

The NBA said Embiid also failed to comply with an NBA Security interview following the incident.

Atlanta Hawks forward Bruno Fernando was suspended for Sunday’s Game 7 for leaving the bench area during the spat.

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