MILWAUKEE — The Atlanta Hawks tipped off the Eastern Conference Finals with a win against the Milwaukee Bucks for the first game on Wednesday night.
Atlanta fans let out a sigh of relief after the nail-biting game ended in the first conference finals win since moving to Atlanta for the Hawks with only a three-point difference. That 116-113 victory is plenty of thanks to the city’s most important player, Trae Young.
The point guard put up 48 points and 11 assists to help bring it on home.
11Alive’s Maria Martin spoke to Trae Young’s father, Rayford Young, who says it’s nothing he doesn’t expect to see from his son.
“Humbly speaking, I’ve seen it all before,” Rayford said. “But that doesn’t say I don’t get excited when I’m watching it. I’m just sitting there stressing, just hoping they win the game.”
Young’s Game 1 performance isn’t quite new – the Texas native averages over 29 points a game in the playoffs so far.
The 22-year-old is starting to gain star power. He shook the crowd at Madison Square Garden earlier this month, taking a bow after dropping a 3-point shot late in a game against the Knicks to take Atlanta to victory.
“He’s done some things that even take me by surprise,” his dad said.
Rayford says he’s proud of the person and player his son is becoming.
“It’s gratifying to see it happen for him and for the city. He wants to make the city of Atlanta so proud of him and his team. I’m just glad they’re starting to get the national attention. He always knew it comes with winning games,” he said.
And the city is showing its appreciation. Hawks fans rejoiced on social media; hopeful their team could potentially take an NBA title.
Rayford says the idea of that possibility is “surreal” for him, but he’s still taking it “game-by-game.”
“I’m getting so many messages, so many texts, and people are asking for tickets for Finals,” he said. “I just want everyone to relax and enjoy the moment.”
He says that’s what he tells his son, too. Trae has been compared to the likes of basketball legends.
“I try to remind him as much as I can. That this is his dream. This is his life and he should enjoy it and create his own storybook, which he’s doing,” Rayford said.
Rayford says Trae is a superstar to him because he cares about people on and off the court.
“That’s more than basketball,” he said.
The series will determine whether Atlanta or Milwaukee head to the NBA Finals. Rayford says he hopes Trae and the team can bring the championship home with the Hawks.
“If there’s any year to do it, it’d be this year. There’s no LeBron. There’s no KD (Kevin Durant). You still got Giannis (Giannis Antetokounmpo). One of Trae’s heroes Chris Paul playing, but I think there’s a good chance,” he said.
Game 2 is Friday night in Milwaukee.