PHILADELPHIA - Trae Young's early smackdown of the Philadelphia 76ers put the Atlanta Hawks in control Sunday afternoon, and the star point guard finished the win with a lob for a one-handed dunk by John Collins, who punched the air in celebration.
Then the visitors took a moment to exhale after a hefty lead was nearly squandered.
"Thank God we were up 20," Atlanta guard Kevin Huerter said.
Young scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half as the Hawks shook off Sixers star Joel Embiid and a hostile crowd, holding on to beat top-seeded Philadelphia 128-124 in their Eastern Conference semifinal series opener.
"The confidence in all these guys is high," said Young, who led the fifth-seeded Hawks past the fourth-seeded Knicks in five games in the first round of the NBA playoffs.