NBA playoffs 2021: 'Underdog mentality' key to another Hawks stunner

By Sports Desk June 16, 2021

Trae Young says the Atlanta Hawks have taken an "underdog mentality" into their series against the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, and their approach certainly seems to be working. 

The Hawks mounted an impressive comeback for the second consecutive game to stun the Sixers 109-106 in Philadelphia on Wednesday and take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semi-final series. 

Trailing by as many as 26 points in the third quarter in Game 5 after fighting back from 18 down to win Game 4, the Hawks never think they are out of a game. 

"You talk about an underdog -- for a team that has no All-Stars, no All-Defensive players, no All-NBA players, this team is fighting," said Young, who led all scorers with 39 points. 

"We're in the second round of the playoffs and I think we've just had that chip on our shoulder all year. ... We're playing with that underdog mentality."

A year after finishing at 20-47, the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, the Hawks are now one win away from a spot in the conference finals. 

"We haven't finished the job yet. We've still got one more game we've got to do," said Young. 

"Thankfully we're going back home playing in front of our fans and on our court. It's going to be fun."

Added Atlanta's interim head coach Nate McMillan, who replaced the fired Lloyd Pierce on March 1: "If you don't believe, you better believe now." 

On the other side, the 76ers were trying to maintain their belief after a second consecutive disappointment. 

Ben Simmons told reporters he believed the team got "too comfortable" with their second-half lead and slowed the game down too much. 

"We weren't pushing the ball as much, weren't moving as much. We've got to be consistent," he said.

"Even if we do get that lead, we can't be happy with that. We've got to keep going, we've got to act like the game's 0-0."

Still, Simmons said, the 76ers know the series is far from over. 

This one stings, this one hurts, but we've got to do our job and get the win in Atlanta," he said. 

"We're obviously capable of doing that; we know what we're capable of as a team. We've just got to go do it."

Related items

  • Philadelphia 76ers and Simmons agree to settlement on withheld pay grievance Philadelphia 76ers and Simmons agree to settlement on withheld pay grievance

    Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have reached a settlement agreement after the Brooklyn Nets guard filed a grievance to recoup a portion of the nearly $20million withheld during the 2021-22 season, according to ESPN.

    Simmons did not play for the 76ers during the 2021-22 season after demanding a trade in light of their messy fallout from their 2021 playoffs exit.

    The All-Star missed their training camp and did not play in the preseason, with the 76ers subsequently opting to withhold his salary. As Simmons' holdout extended, even infamously declining head coach Doc Rivers' request to play as a substitute in a drill at training, the 76ers' continued to withhold payments.

    Simmons would cite mental health reasons for his absence, and was eventually traded to the Nets in February.

    The guard, alongside the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), filed the grievance in April after Simmons' representatives and the 76ers could not reach a settlement, according to reports.

    However, a settlement agreement has now been reached after entering into an arbitration process prior to judgement, with both sides agreeing to confidentiality on the exact financial details.

    The 76ers had claimed that Simmons was in breach of his contract under the NBA and NBPA collective bargaining agreement for his continued absence.

    Simmons is yet to play for the Nets following his trade due to a back injury, but is hopeful of a franchise debut in the 2022-23 season after surgery in May.

  • Storm, Horizon move to 2-0 in P.H.A.S.E 1 Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball League Storm, Horizon move to 2-0 in P.H.A.S.E 1 Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball League

    Elite 1 Horizon and Elite 1 Storm both moved to 2-0 in the P.H.A.S.E 1 Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball League as action continued on day two at the National Arena in Kingston on Sunday.

    In the first game of the day, Elite 1 Horizon tackled Elite 1 Waves in an exciting encounter. Contrary to the Horizons’ first game on Saturday where they secured a dominant victory over the Rivers, they went into the half against the Waves facing a 34-40 deficit.

    The third quarter proved pivotal, however, as they outscored the Waves 20-9 to go into the final period with a 54-49 lead, a lead they held until the end, securing a 76-61 victory. Rasheed Maynard was man-of-the-match with 16 points, three assists and five steals.

    The second game of the day between the Storm and the Rivers was exciting to say the least, with only four points separating the teams in the end.

    The Storm got off to a strong start in the opening quarter, closing with a 31-24 lead before having an even more dominant second quarter to lead 63-44 at halftime.

    Something clicked in the second half for the Rivers, however, and they outscored their opponents 29-23 in the third quarter to set up an intriguing final 12 minutes.

    The Rivers also won those final 12 minutes 32-23 but, unfortunately for them, the lead the Storm built in the first half proved too much in the end, the final score being 109-105.

    Drelan Tripplett was the man-of-the-match after scoring 23 points on an efficient 7-8 from the field with two assists and four rebounds.

    Day three takes place on Wednesday with the Rivers and Waves opening the show trying to get in the win column while the undefeated Storm and Horizon will square off in the second game.

  • Brittney Griner's defence team appeals nine-year prison sentence Brittney Griner's defence team appeals nine-year prison sentence

    Brittney Griner's defence team has appealed against her nine-year prison sentence in Russia.

    The WNBA star was this month jailed for drug possession and drug smuggling with criminal intent for bringing under a gram of cannabis oil into the country nearly six months ago.

    Judge Anna Sotnikova rejected Griner's apology and plea for leniency. Griner said she had made an "honest mistake".

    Griner was arrested in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on February 17 for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She was returning to Russia, where she has played since 2014 during the WNBA offseason.

    The eight-time WNBA All-Star was, her lawyers argued, using cannabis for medicinal purposes to treat chronic pain sustained over the course of her career.

    The two-time Olympic champion said she accidentally packed the cartridges and was unaware cannabis oil was outlawed in Russia.

    United States president Joe Biden slammed the sentence as "unacceptable" and Griner's lawyer Maria Blagovolina told Reuters on Monday that an appeal had been filed.

    The US government and Russia are engaged in prisoner swap negotiations that, if successful, would see Griner released to return home.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.