Atlanta Hawks shock Philadelphia 76ers en route to second Eastern Conference finals in 50 years

Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins was in a good mood on Sunday night, and with good reason.

After watching his Hawks defeat the host Philadelphia 76ers 103-96, Collins was all smiles. Maybe it was because he’d been through three losing seasons in Atlanta. Maybe it was because he was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of his dunk on Sixers center Joel Embiid from Game 6.

Either way, the longest-tenured Hawk on the roster at four seasons was a happy man.

“Everybody is fired up,” Collins said. “We’ve worked all year to be in moments like this. Game 7, I feel like we all had each other’s back. We couldn’t have wanted anything else more than we did tonight. We pulled through for a victory.”

In Collins’ first three seasons in Atlanta, the Hawks were 73-158, the fourth-worst winning percentage over that span (2017-20). Last season, they weren’t invited to the bubble in Orlando, Florida. The losses just continued to pile up. And things also didn’t appear to be improving to start the 2020-21 season either.