With 76ers awaiting, Hawks and Celtics prepare for Game 6

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Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is congratulated after the team's win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 in a first-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, April 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON – Sorry Miss Jackson, but the Hawks’ first round playoff matchup with the Celtics just got real.

Trae Young’s pullup, 30-foot 3-pointer over Jaylen Brown in the closing seconds of Tuesday’s 119-117 win in Game 5 whittled Boston’s series lead to 3-2.

The series is now headed back to Atlanta for Game 6 on Thursday, pushing a scheduled Janet Jackson concert at State Farm Arena back a day, and adding at least a dose of concern for a Celtics’ team that reverted to some bad habits that tripped it up on occasion during the regular season.

Though still on the verge of a second straight opening round exit, the Hawks have reason to be confident heading home because they will get back Dejounte Murray, who served a one-game suspension Tuesday for bumping official Gediminas Petraitis after the end of Game 4.

“I FaceTimed him as soon as I got in the locker room,” Young said after Game 5 of Murray. “I told him to be ready. I told him before the game that we were going to take care of business so he can play in Atlanta.”

Murray’s presence will give Atlanta more scoring punch alongside Young, who had 38 points in Game 5 — his best of the series. Young has scored 30 points in each of the last three games. Also encouraging was the 22 points contributed by John Collins, his first double-digit effort since Game 1.

Jaylen Brown called a fourth quarter in which the Celtics allowed a 12-0 run by the Hawks to tie the game “a disgrace.”

The Celtics are 6.5-point favorites to prevail in Game 6, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. The extension of the series is good news for the awaiting Philadelphia 76ers, who will have even more time to rest before the start of the second round. That’s huge for star Joel Embiid, who is recovering from a sprained knee.

Derrick White said having a core group that experienced moments of adversity last season will be key in helping Boston bounce back.

“We’ve got a lot of guys in here that trust each other,” White said. “We’ve just got to lean on each other and get through this together.”

Young is expecting an energized effort from the Celtics in Atlanta.

Matching it will be key.

“We’re still in an elimination phase,” Young said. “If we lose one, we’re done. So, we’ve got to keep that same energy and be ready to play when we get back home.”


Celtics lead 3-2. Game 6, 8:30 p.m. EDT, TNT

— NEED TO KNOW: After controlling most of Game 5, the Celtics allowed a 12-0 fourth-quarter run and 16 points in the final period by Trae Young, who connected on a 30-footer in the closing seconds to give the Hawks a 119-117 victory. The first-round series now shifts back to Atlanta for Game 6 on Thursday night.

— KEEP AN EYE ON: Atlanta’s Dejounte Murray. He sat out Game 5 serving a one-game suspension for bumping and verbally abusing a referee in the Hawks’ Game 4 loss. He returns to a team that finally found its shooting touch, knocking down 19 3-pointers in Tuesday’s win. Murray’s presence will force the Celtics to make some difficult decisions on the defensive end.

— INJURY WATCH: Neither team is facing any new concerns coming out of Game 5.

— PRESSURE IS ON: Boston. Huge favorites entering the series, the Celtics will enter what is expected to be a raucous environment in Atlanta as they try to avoid having to host a winner-take-all Game 7.


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