Top-seeded Atlanta Hawks narrowly edged past Washington Wizards 94-91 in game 6 on Saturday at Verizon Center. With this victory, Atlanta finished off the semifinal series 4-2 in their favor. The Hawks will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. This is Atlanta’s maiden Conference Final berth.
The Wizards in front of the home crowd led 20-19 in the first frame. But standing at the verge of making franchise history, the Hawks led 45-36 at halftime. The Wizards bounced back in the third quarter to outscore the winners 27-25 during that period. The margin was reduced but the Hawks still led 72-64 going into the final quarter.
Bradley Beal led Washington to close in on Hawks, and at one point the Wizards trailed 87-86. The 21-year-old shooting guard then sparked celebrations in the stands with a jumper that lifted Washington to an 88-87 lead. Beal scored 29 points to take the game to the wire.
But the Hawks once more snatched the advantage and led 94-91 with 6.4 seconds remaining. Paul Pierce then tried to level things with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, as he did in Game 3. But video replay disallowed Paul’s shot citing he held the ball while the clock ticked zero seconds.
“It’s something that we can take a lot of pride in,” said winner of coach of the year, Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer this season.
“There’s been a lot of great work put in all year, and to see it carry over to the playoffs and for our players to go out and execute and make enough plays and find a way to win a game and put us in the Eastern Conference finals — I think for the organization, for the city, it’s something everybody takes a lot of pride in. Our group takes pride in it, too. But we’re more in the moment. There’s a lot of work to be done still.”
The Conference Final series shall kick off on May 20 at Atlanta.