At the time, John Collins’ 3-pointer with 8:21 left in the third quarter seemed like another inconsequential bucket for the Atlanta Hawks in a blowout against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Hawks trailed by 23 after the Collins shot, and the Sixers, behind Joel Embiid and Seth Curry, were rolling in front of the home crowd in Philadelphia.
“Nobody was hanging their heads. Nobody was pouting on the bench,” Hawks veteran Lou Williams said. “You couldn’t tell from the body language that we were down big throughout the majority of this game.”
Looking back, that Collins 3 was the beginning of a monumental comeback by the Hawks and an epic collapse by the Sixers.
Fifth-seeded Atlanta erased a 26-point deficit and defeated top-seeded Philadelphia 109-106, taking a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Bucket by bucket, stop by stop, the Hawks crawled then climbed back into the game before overtaking and stunning the Sixers and the NBA world.
“You chip away, you chip away,” Williams said, “and before you know you’ve got a game.”
Trae Young scored 39 points, Collins contributed 19 points and 11 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari had 16 points and eight rebounds and Williams scored 15.
“We’ve been a lot better at closing out games and finishing games no matter what the score is,” Young said.
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