The Atlanta Hawks stole home-court advantage from the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, but on Friday, the Bucks issued an emphatic response. They throttled the Hawks, 125-91, during a game that was decided before halftime. The series is now tied 1-1 as we head to Atlanta. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 25 points, but all three Bucks stars shot well from the sector as Jrue Holiday contributed 22 points to travel alongside Khris Middleton’s 15. Pitifully, no Hawk managed to top Middleton’s 15-point total as Trae Young led the Hawks with exactly that a lot of. John Collins was the sole Hawks starter to shoot above 50 percent, and therefore the entire team went cold from behind the arc.
The series will now shift to State Farm Arena in Atlanta for the subsequent two games, with Game 3 approaching Sunday. Milwaukee has reclaimed the momentum of the series, but remember, Atlanta lost Game 2 in Philadelphia after winning Game 1 within the second round. Look what happened. The Hawks won that series, and that they won’t let the Bucks take this one without a fight. For now, here are the three biggest takeaways from Game 3. it might be an oversimplification to mention that the Bucks lost Game 1 of this series exclusively thanks to their poor shooting, but when during an ll|one amongst|one in every of”> one among the simplest shooting teams within the NBA goes 8-of-36 from behind the arc in a three-point loss, there’s rarely an easier explanation than bad luck. The Bucks have experienced that in every Game 1 they’ve played this postseason. They shot 5-of-31 on 3-pointers in Game 1 against Miami and 6-of-30 in Game 1 against Brooklyn.
In Game 2, the Bucks nearly matched their Game 1 total within the half-moon by making seven 3-pointers. They finished with 15, but had the sport been competitive within the last half, they likely would’ve risen into the 20s. The Bucks aren’t getting to win every game by 34 points, but the incredible thing about this blowout is that they didn’t shoot particularly well overall. They made 36.6 percent of their 3-pointers, below their 38.9 percent mark within the regular season, and that they still blew the Hawks out. That’s what should terrify Milwaukee’s possible opponents within the Finals. Their series against Brooklyn was far closer than it should are because the Bucks shot only 30.1 percent on their 3-pointers. Yes, Brooklyn’s defense made a difference there, but the Bucks hit only 28.7 percent of their wide-open 3s against the Nets. That’s just bad luck, and it’s beginning to turn.
The version of the Bucks we saw on Friday is way closer to the team they were all season, one that used their excellent shooting to open driving lanes for Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Bucks are almost impossible to beat when they’re scoring at both the rim and behind the arc, and therefore the Hawks saw that firsthand tonight. Atlanta’s second-round convert Philadelphia was all the more impressive due to who the Hawks did not have. DeAndre Hunter is out for the postseason with a knee injury. Cam Reddish barely made his postseason debut on Friday. Bogdan Bogdanovic hurt his knee in Game 6 of the Philadelphia series and hasn’t been an equivalent since. Just going to now has been a slog, and on Friday, the Hawks may need to hit the purpose of no return.
Trae Young scored 48 points in Game 1, and therefore the Bucks responded with a defensive game-plan geared around stopping him. They ignored opposing shooters and had their screen defenders proactively attack Young in space instead of expecting him at the basket. The bet was that Atlanta’s remaining role players just weren’t ok to punish them for it. That bet paid off. Young led the Hawks with 15 points. None of his teammates topped 12, and that they shot 25 percent from behind the arc. Bogdanovic is so hobbled that he has attempted only 12 shots across two games during this matchup after averaging 12.8 per game within the regular season. The Bucks aren’t only the higher team here, they’re the healthier one. With only Donte DiVincenzo out, they’re clearly the second-healthiest team left within the field behind the fully intact Phoenix Suns.
It’s sad that at this stage within the playoffs, health could be the deciding factor, but that is what this condensed season has done to the sector. Mike Budenholzer has tried very, very hard to seek out an area in his rotation for Jeff Teague this postseason. Across four games against Miami and Brooklyn, Teague played roughly 31 minutes… and therefore the Bucks were outscored by 26 points therein time. Still, Budenholzer gave Teague a six-minute stretch in Game 1, and while the Bucks didn’t lose those minutes, Teague’s ineffectiveness is among the explanations they didn’t dominate those minutes, either. The Bucks lost Game 1 by three points. it is a testament to how close the playoffs tend to be. Every lineup decision counts at this stage. Put the incorrect player in at the incorrect time which could cost you a championship.
But within the later stages of the Brooklyn series, Budenholzer went the opposite way. He essentially devolved down into a six-player rotation, using Pat Connaughton as his only reliable reserve. Bobby Portis was far away from the rotation entirely and Bryn Forbes hardly played. This works in do-or-die games, but it isn’t sustainable across a whole postseason. It finally seems as if Budenholzer has settled on an eight-man rotation. He used Portis, Forbes, and Connaughton as his reserves within the competitive portion of the sport, and while each brings weaknesses to the table (specifically on defense), he bit the bullet and played them for his or her energy and offensive value. Milwaukee won the minutes all three of them played substantially. Eventually, things are getting to get so tight that the Bucks can only believe six players again, except, for now, getting these key minutes out of a couple of reserves is important to keep their best players fresh.