The Atlanta Hawks have done what nobody expected them to do.
They are in the Eastern Conference Finals.
This team was 14-20 under Lloyd Pierce.
It looked as if another trip to the lottery seemed inevitable.
Then after firing Pierce, they gave Nate McMillan the interim job.
He took the position and ran with it.
The Hawks proceeded to go 27-11 under McMillan and were headed to the playoffs.
Their first-round opponent were the hungry New York Knicks.
Some believed that the Knicks were ready to make a statement against the Hawks.
The Hawks were not going to let that happen.
They dispatched them with ease after five games.
Next up were the number one seed, Philadelphia 76ers.
The consensus was that they would lose to the 76ers.
It would still be a successful season for a team that was just in the midst of rebuilding.
However, they were able to upset the 76ers in seven games.
This journey for the Hawks has been something out of the ordinary.
We usually do not see runs like this in the NBA often.
However, the Hawks are one of the final four teams in the playoffs.
Trae Young has been the superstar for this team, but contenders need role players to win.
There are two role players who have helped the Hawks make this miraculous run.
2. Danilo Gallinari
The Hawks added Danilo Gallinari this past offseason for some veteran help.
Gallinari has a tendency to be injured a lot, but when he plays, he is very serviceable.
That has been shown with this current playoff run.
He is averaging 12.5 points per game, while shooting 39 percent from three during the postseason this year.
Gallinari has been such a key piece, especially in the second round.
Out of the seven games that were played; Gallinari scored 15-plus points in five of those.
He was able to score on the block, or from outside.
Gallinari was one of their best offensive weapons for the round.
He was even able to have a clutch defensive play to clinch the series win.
Danilo Gallinari taking the Hawks home.
Big steal plus the slam (🎥 via: @NBA)
— HOOPER (@HOOPEROFFICIAL_) June 21, 2021
Games 5 and 7 were big wins for the Hawks franchise and Gallinari played a big role in both of those.
Hopefully, he can continue his good postseason coming off the bench.
1. Kevin Huerter
The best player in Game 7 was not Young.
It wasn’t Joel Embiid.
The best player in a win or go home playoff game was Kevin Huerter.
Kevin Huerter tonight:
Red velvet delivered 🔥🔥🔥 The Hawks are going to the ECF pic.twitter.com/QiTqhKPfJo
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) June 21, 2021
Bogdan Bogdanovic was a little banged up and the Hawks needed a player to step up in his absence.
Huerter became that guy.
27 points and seven rebounds for Huerter is a career game for him.
Also, he shot 10-18 from the field.
Huerter is having a very good playoffs.
Now with a potential Bogdanovic injury, Huerter might need to step up even more.
Huerter had himself a game that will go down in Hawks history.
Look for more playing time for him.
The Hawks are going to need his scoring ability in a tough series against the Milwaukee Bucks.