Trae Young has been off to a scorching start to his playoff career, as the 6’1″ sharpshooting point guard has proved he can deliver when the lights are brightest. Young brushed off the physical Knicks team and hostile MSG crowd, bouncing them out in quick five games, all while averaging 29.2ppg and 9.8apg and taunting his opponents with numerous celebrations.
Now his Hawks face a much better team in the 76ers and they managed to immediately steal homecourt, beating Philly 128-124 in an exciting game that had the Hawks leading dominantly through the better part of the game. The 76ers managed to make a push in a crazy 4th quarter, but they came up short in the end.
Trae was magnificent, starting hot from the start, dropping 25 points in the first half and finishing the game with 35 points, 10 assists, and 2 steals, on 11-23 shooting from the field. He also got great all-around contributions from his teammates, particularly Bogdanović and Collins, who both scored 21 points, proving the Hawks have enough talent, depth, and firepower to beat the favored 76ers.
Considering they had the 2nd best defense during the regular season, it was expected the 76ers could have the personnel to contain all the offensive talent the Hawks have. Philly has many defensive-minded guys on their roster that could take on the challenge of guarding Trae Young, but one of the finalists for the DPOY award, Ben Simmons, may just be the best choice.
Surprisingly Doc Rivers went with Danny Green as the primary matchup for Trae Young for most of Game 1, as Simmons was tasked with Bogdan Bogdanović. It didn’t work out too well, and ahead of a crucial Game 2, Simmons admitted he welcomes the challenge of guarding Trae.
“Yeah, I probably will do that. I want to. So, if the refs ain’t going to call so many fouls, I can be physical and be 6-10, then I’ll be 6-10. But we’ll see. Obviously, Trae is very talented. He’s crafty and he’s not a selfish player. So he’s going to find his guys when he is open. At the same time, he is looking for his. So a lot of respect to him. But I am looking to come in there and see if I can be a little more physical next game and see if the refs are going to let us play a little bit.”Ben Simmons, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Considering his 6’10” frame and agility, Simmons could be a real matchup problem for Trae. Ben is so versatile defensively that he can guard anybody on the court, and his size could make Trae work hard for every shot, especially from deep. In that case, he would be forced to distribute the ball more and rely on his teammates. They showed they can do it for now, but will the Hawks continue their hot streak?. We will have to wait for tonight’s game, but one thing is for sure. If the 76ers don’t want to go down a 2-0 hole, they will need their defensive leader to stop the red-hot Trae Young.
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