The Atlanta Hawks put up a valiant effort but ultimately fell to the Boston Celtics 128-120 in Game 6, losing the series 4-2.
After a heroic effort in Game 5, Trae Young did his best to put in a repeat performance. He finished with 30 points 10 assists, three rebounds, and a pair of blocks but struggled from the floor shooting 38.5% overall and connecting on just 4-of-12 looks from deep.
Despite the loss, and a slew of outside narratives, Young gave a very telling exit interview.
“I mean you’re going to continue to put in work,” Young said via the Hawks’ YouTube channel on April 28. “I mean we know what the season’s going to be like next year. We know what to expect and how we’re going to play with each other. And really getting a full summer with Quinn [Snyder] is going to…help us even more too. We’re going to see each other. We’re going to be with the team and be around each other, and we’ll be able to implement some things going into next year too. So it’s gonna be a fun summer that we’re able to connect and be even more close together going into next season.
“Whenever you’re close off the court…it makes playing that much more fun and that much more easier for everybody.”
That is a whole lot of togetherness talk from a player outside voices seem anxious to run out of town. Young, who was voted the “most overrated” player by a small subsection of players has had his ceiling, leadership, and skill set questioned at every turn this season, even more so than usual following the Hawks’ blockbuster trade for Dejounte Murray this past offseason.
Young shook off a rough start to the series to average 29.2 points and lead the field with 10.2 assists per game. Even with his newly displayed ability to thwart the opposing defense’s best plans to specifically slow him down, Young knows he has to get better.
“My game can get a lot better, especially with Quinn,” Young said. “It’s a lot of things that I can get better at. “I mean I don’t want to get into too much specifics and things like that and what we’re going to work on and we just talked. But I’m excited for this summer. I mean Quinn’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had in my whole life. So just being able to have him, being able to listen to him, and be coached by him. It’s gonna be a fun summer and fun transition going into next year.”
Again, further references to next season and continued tutelage under Quin would seem to suggest Young plans on being in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.
He is under contract through 2027 but rumors began earlier in the season that he could be the next star to ask out of his situation. Instead, he has echoed sentiments expressed by his father regarding his new head coach.
Young went on to cite Quin for being “cerebral” and for helping the team stay organized.
“I mean not in any disrespect to any of my other coaches – I’ve had great coaches my whole career,” Young clarified. “But everybody’s different, and he brings something special to our team. And…I really enjoy playing for him.
“I think from the first couple of practices…it was like it was training camp again,” Young said. “And we were kind of kind of going through things and going through plays and he was telling every person – from the five to me to the coaches – on how fast they need to be going. And just little details that matter, little things that I think really matter and are important to me, he thinks the same way. And it’s a great feeling when someone thinks like that.”
Young noted that he usually takes some time off after the season. But he made sure to make one notable mention that could take up some of his free time.
“I usually take off a couple weeks and not touching a ball and just getting my head and space away from basketball,” Young said. “But I mean who knows what this summer’s gonna be like. God willing I’m on the USA team. … At this level, you just want to be on the…Olympic team someday. Hopefully, I get an opportunity to be a part of that and it’ll be cool.”
It’s far from a slip as Young’s absence from Team USA has been a storyline before.
Hawks’ Trae Young sounds off on Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum
“I’ve been knowing…Jalen since high school and Jason since I was in probably 8th grade, 7th grade,” Young said. “We’ve been playing against each other and competing. So…it’s a lot of love and respect there from all of us. So I mean to play against each other in the playoffs was surreal for me. So it was a blessing. I mean I wish we would have won. I told him this is the first one that they got. And I can’t wait to see him again. They’re really good guys and I’m pulling for them.”
Boston will take on the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semi-Finals on Monday, May 1.