John Collins’ game-winner sends the Hawks to the playoffs

The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Washington Wizards 120-116 at State Farm Arena on Wednesday night. More importantly, they clinched their first playoff birth in four years.

The win took some grit and determination from the Hawks, who trailed by 13 at one point in the fourth. However, clutch stops and clutch shots sent the home team to the postseason. 

Trae Young recorded a near triple-double with 33 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. His brilliant playmaking played a key factor at the end of the game that propelled the Hawks to victory. 

“It’s just exciting being in this position after going through a couple years of rebuilding and watching the playoffs, even going to some games,” Young said. 

Bogdan Bogdanovic was helpful on the offensive end with his 20 points. Bogey also nabbed three steals and had three assists. 

John Collins scored 18 points, none more significant than a clutch three with 24 seconds left to put the Hawks up 117-116. 

“I knew it was going in,” Young said on COllins’ shot. “He missed a couple of them that were wide open, and he was talking to me. He always gets frustrated at himself sometimes when shots don’t go in.”

Clint Capela contributed another double-double scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. His rim presence was vital as his defense and two blocks inside helped Atlanta seal the win at the end of the game. 

Nate McMillian’s team is firing on all cylinders at the right time with the playoffs looming. They won the rebounding battle in this one, and battled through adversity in the 3rd quarter. 

“I saw growth from this group. They continued not to give up, believe in each other and go out there and execute,” McMillan said. 

The Washington Wizards were winning for most of the game, and Russell Westbrook was unstoppable throughout the game, but they fell short. Westbrook scored 34 points, dished out 15 assists, and grabbed five rebounds. He was a menace all over on offense, and it seemed like the Hawks didn’t have any answers when he went inside. Second-year player Daniel Gafford had a great third quarter, allowing the Wizards to build a double-digit lead. He scored 12 in the quarter and gave the defense fits in the paint. 

The Wizards were without NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal for their season series against the Hawks and suffered two pivotal losses. A win tonight would have secured them a spot in the play-in tournament.

Atlanta will have a short celebration as they prepare to face the Orlando Magic at home tomorrow night.