In a game that was not as close as the score would have you believe, the Milwaukee Bucks throttled the Atlanta Hawks 117-106, setting a season high in points scored. The Bucks went 1-4 in Sunday afternoon games last year and have already matched that total in just the first Sunday matinee of the year. The Bucks got off to a blazing start in the first quarter and never looked back, racing out to a 28-16 lead with 12 of those points coming from behind the arc. Milwaukee tallied five more three-pointers before the half ended and went into the locker room up 61-48. The second half saw the team on cruise control as they coasted along and mitigated a late Atlanta run to get back in the win column.
Unlike last year, there was no trace of the Bucks playing down to an inferior opponent’s competition level. Coming off the hyped up game last Thursday, and with the Oklahoma City Thunder on the horizon, this had all the makings of a trap game. Fortunately it was all Sunday candy for the Bucks as they beat a team they were supposed to, and this game was the perfect companion on a lazy Sunday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo started the game scoring the Bucks’ first nine points, including a pull-up three-pointer for his second field goal of the game. His transition, kick-out assist on a Tony Snell three-pointer snapped the opening, consecutive point streak. Giannis tallied 33 points and surpassed Marques Johnson for most points scored through the first six games of a season in franchise history. The bucket that put him into the record books once more, was a forceful left handed throw down through three Hawks defenders late in the third quarter. Along with his 33 points, Antetokounmpo finished the contest with 12 rebounds, five assists, while connecting on two-thirds of his shot attempts.
Khris Middleton snapped out of his early season funk on 60-percent three-point shooting. Middleton shot 83-percent from the field in the third quarter and looked to find his groove all throughout the second half. Middleton started the game like he had been playing during the first handful of games. There were a lot of forced looks and drives that resulted in him getting stuck and having little options to get out of those situations. The second half was obviously an encouraging sign and one that can hopefully be compounded on before Tuesday night’s game.
The Atlanta Hawks are in rebuilding mode and they firmly displayed that mode this afternoon. Rookie big man, John Collins, was selected with the 19th overall pick (two selections after the Bucks took D.J. Wilson), so he was about to breakout for a career day right? Not quite. The rook totaled 14 points and added seven rebounds while getting physical with John Henson throughout the game. The Hawks made a run in the fourth quarter as the Bucks were decidedly coasting along. The Atlanta run could not be sustained as the final minutes ran down with the Hawks reverting back to the poor play they displayed in the first three quarters.
Stat that Stood Out
The Bucks tallied 30 assists on 44 made field goals. While being interviewed at halftime, Rashad Vaughn, who had himself a day (12 points on 4/6 three-point shooting), explained that the team made ball movement a priority during the weekend’s practices. The quick perimeter ball movement resulted in many open looks from beyond the arc.
The three-point shot was not the only shot attempt to benefit from the emphasized ball movement. There were multiple times the Bucks would work the ball into the post, kick the ball back out, whip it around the perimeter, catch the Hawks defense slow on the rotation, and whip the rock to the paint for an easy look at the rim.