It was a disappointing performance by Milwaukee as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of their franchise. They suffered a narrow loss to the Celtics in a relatively lifeless affair, save for it a couple of Kyrie Irving and Giannis highlights.
Giannis was again brilliant posting 28 points in the loss and was supported well by Malcolm Brogdon who in his return from an ankle sprain chipped in 15 points. Other than those two the team struggled offensively, not even cracking the 90-point mark, putting up a paltry 87 points.
The Hawks have struggled for wins early in the season. Though it’s not wins the team is after, rather progress and maturation from some of their young talent such as Taurean Prince and rookie John Collins. Both have shown glimpses of being solid starters for the long-term future for this Hawks team.
Kent Bazemore started off scratchy but has put together some nice performances in the last few games posting a string of games where he’s scored over 15 points. They’ll need his solid two-way play against a Bucks team on the rise.
Three keys to the game
Free throws – Atlanta is second in the league for free throw percentage while the Bucks are middle of the pack at fourteenth. Against the Celtics the Bucks could only manage 57% of their shots from the charity stripe. If that trend continues it will allow the Hawks to stay in the game for much longer, especially if they can get to the line themselves.
Defending the Bucks’ length – It’s common knowledge the Bucks are one of the longest teams in the NBA. They play to those strengths surrounding Giannis with long, rangy shooters who can space the floor. The Hawks on the other hand have a heap of work horses who may not have the physical capabilities of the Bucks but with their hustle won’t make life easy for them.
Scoring – Both teams have been middle of the road in terms of their offense. The Hawks without their starting point guard Dennis Schröder have struggled to generate much scoring while the Bucks have yet to find a consistent scorer outside of Giannis.
The key for the Hawks will be contributions from all players who take the floor. They can’t expect to have one player stand out and score 30 as they lack a player of that ilk, rather they need a few players to chip in with 10-15 points each.
Matchup to watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Taurean Prince – Prince will be playing up a position by taking on Giannis but as the Hawks best young defender it’d be great for his development if Coach Mike Budenholzer threw him the challenge. Right now Giannis is the league’s most daunting matchup but Prince will have no fear despite his physical shortcomings.
Look for Prince to give Giannis space to force him to shoot because once Prince allows him the space to get to the rim, it’s all over. If he can nullify and force him around the perimeter that’s a win for the Hawks’ forward.
Milwaukee Bucks projected starting lineup
PG – Malcolm Delaney | SG – Kent Bazemore | SF – Taurean Prince | PF – Mike Muscala | C – Dewayne Dedmon
Atlanta Hawks projected starting lineup
PG – Malcolm Brogdon | SG – Tony Snell | SF – Khris Middleton | PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo | C – Thon Maker
The Greek Freak will have a field day with the young Hawks defenders. He’s been toying with much better teams and posting ridiculous numbers; if he gets 30 minutes or more look for him to put up somewhere between a 30 point, 5 rebound, 5 assist game.
On the Hawks side, rookie John Collins has shown plenty of promise and has been rebounding like a mad man. In the absence of Schröder he’s one of the few bright spots Atlanta can look to.
The Bucks are heavy favorites in this matchup. While current odds aren’t available, there may be some interest surrounding whether they can cover the spread. If the Hawks can turn it into a more gritty affair, they may be able to lessen the margin of the loss.
Look for Milwaukee to bounce back hard against an inferior Hawks team. Atlanta just lacks the depth and talent to compete with an up-and-coming team like the Bucks. Expect the Bucks to get the win with relative ease.
Catch this game on league pass and your local channel providers. Tip off is at 3.30 pm ET at Philips Arena.
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