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FutureStarrBreaking Down Trae Young's Performance Against the Celtics
Trae Young is currently one of the best players in the NBA and one of its greatest playoff performers ever. Why it matters: In order to understand how Young will help the Hawks regain the lead in this series, it is imperative that we evaluate his performance against Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their first-round series. Young is key if you wish to know if and when Atlanta can find their footing again - pay close attention to him for clues! 1. Dropped Back in the Paint Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young has been one of the best players so far this playoffs, scoring 292 points over 17 games while making at least one steal in each of his last eight. Young's playmaking ability has caused Boston some havoc recently. Young has made nearly every shot he takes in this series count by giving one or three players on the other team an open look with nearly every attempt by Young. Jayson Tatum, John Collins and Jalen Johnson have all received more open looks due to him catching the ball with all eyes focused on them. That is because each player brings unique skillsets and can generate different types of shots; Tatum excels at hitting big floaters in the paint while making plays on transition. Collins has also shown his skill as an effective finisher in the post, knocking down three-pointers in both wins for Atlanta while dishing out four assists per game. As well, he's also made an effective impact off of the dribble, particularly his use of his signature floater move that has yielded open shots on almost half his drives in this series. No other player can match his incredible ability to read defenses like Jordan does. With a natural sense for knowing when and why to switch his man, Jordan maximizes any defense without overreacting or becoming overconfident in its execution. Andre Roberson is also a master pick-and-roll player. His ability to find open shots before passing quickly to teammates has contributed greatly to their success as part of the Hawks squad. Young could play an essential role in Atlanta's Eastern Conference playoff series against Brooklyn if he can continue producing these sorts of numbers and lead them to another sweep in this year's tournament. The Celtics may have given Atlanta an outside shot in this series, but if they hope to stay competitive they must tighten up their defense if they want any chance at staying in it. That was particularly evident during Game 3, when Boston turned in their worst defensive performance of the series yet still managed to take an early lead before allowing Hawks back in - an important lesson learned for any 7-seed team in a competitive matchup like this one. 2. Pick-n-Roll Trae Young is one of the league's premier pick-n-roll players, creating open shots for teammates through his passing and becoming an additional threat off pick-and-roll play. Unfortunately for Boston, his ability has proved challenging to defend. Due to Boston's defensive capabilities, Young has been limited in his three-point shooting, scoring only 3.33 threes out of 8.3 attempts during this postseason (39%). Boston's defensive strategy focused on trapping and containing Young's drive rather than guarding off it was still effective in stopping Young from scoring, although not to the same degree. In their series against Boston, Atlanta has made great use of their pick-and-roll play in Game 3. It proved difficult for Boston to defend, giving Atlanta an edge as they used the strategy effectively against them in Game 3 itself. Start with how they've found ways to draw defenders away from Young when he turns the corner on screens, giving him time to get to the rim before being faced off against a weak-side helper. Watch Len slip out early after an aggressive screen by Spencer Dinwiddie; Allen immediately turned away, creating space for Young to hit a floater shot from deep. Young must also consider how well Boston can handle his drive in isolation. Boston's drop coverage was subpar during Game 3, as they frequently sent too many bodies onto Young who can easily overextend his range of motion. If Boston can't stop Young from driving the ball, they may resort to using the dribble-drive option - although that can be difficult due to their defense's poor record in getting off screens and switching. This was especially evident when Boston employed two-way defense, making it harder to find a two-way helper who won't turn into a three-point play when pick-and-rolls occurred on pick-and-roll plays. Boston struggled mightily to do just this all season - it even played into Young's hands in Game 3, scoring 17 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. 3. Three-Pointer Young capped his 38-point performance by nailing an incredible three-point shot in the final seconds of Game 5 against Boston to pull Atlanta to within 3-2 in their series and bring them within striking distance of victory. Young made it happen with just 1.8 seconds remaining to give Atlanta their dramatic 119-117 triumph that kept their series alive. Boston was up 13 points with 6:22 left in the second quarter and looked poised to take control when Derrick White hit two free throws, but Young unleashed one of his signature shots - a 30-foot 3-pointer from just inside their logo that gave Atlanta an unbelievable 119-117 win and set them up for what could potentially be a series-ending win at home in Game 6. Beginning the play, Young dribbled to the corner and caught Capela's screen. Once through it, Horford switched onto him while Boston switched Horford onto Young as well. Brown made an attempt at blocking Young, but it wasn't enough - Young continued his run unimpeded. Once Young hit his shot, it became evident that Boston lacked any response for Young. Their defense had failed them on many occasions throughout this series as they allowed countless open shots for Atlanta Hawks players. Boston was lucky that Young made few errors, or else Boston may have struggled to keep pace. By halftime, Boston still was keeping pace with Young's offensive flow - however soon after their defense fell apart giving Young plenty of room to run around the court. Young was also instrumental in using his playmaking talents to assist Bey, Collins and Johnson in getting open shots - three great shooters in this series but lacking one vital piece. Bey, Collins and Johnson can find openings in the paint easily but struggle to drive to the rim efficiently, making it more difficult for them to take an easy shot. 4. Rebounding Trae Young delivered a clutch triple with just over one second remaining to save Game 5 for Atlanta against Boston and keep their season alive. Young scored 38 points along with 13 assists, four rebounds and two steals as Atlanta moved ahead 3-2 in their first-round series with Boston. Young is an offensive force who thrives when given the ball and will always find ways to score when given it, so Boston needs to remove his playmaking from his hands and make scoring as difficult for him as possible. Boston has spent 27:06 of game time attacking Young this series-the highest of any matchup! Boston has not only struggled to keep Young on their side of the court from an offensive standpoint. Additionally, they've found it hard to get consistent looks at Young from his starting position in the front court. Young has found numerous strategies to break down the Celtics' defense, such as pulling up from deep and beating guys off-dribble one-on-one. He has also exploited situations that exploit their switch defense. The Celtics can counter this with more drop coverage; however, to minimize micro-reactions within their coverage it's key they don't switch quickly between defensive types - for instance when Boston attempted its opening shot attempt of Game 3, drop coverage was already present and no changes had to be made immediately upon initiating play. Young went on to hit two of his three 3-pointers made during the fourth quarter, which helped Atlanta pull away from Boston and win. Their come-from-behind victory provided a major boost for their season; now it will be interesting to see how they respond in Game 6. Young is known for his rebounding prowess and offensive prowess; however, he's also an exceptional offensive player with an eye for shot making. When the Celtics don't switch their defense quickly enough in the paint area, he can become an explosive threat while his shooting gives him an advantage on the floor.