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Bucks vs. Hawks Preview: Bucks Look to Pull Even with Atlanta in the East

Milwaukee attempts to bring West Coast success back home

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Strap yourselves in, folks. We’ve got a BIG basketball game tonight with the Atlanta Hawks in town. The Bucks are currently sitting a game behind the Hawks in the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference (Bucks in 6th, anyone?).

Bucks Update

This is a hot team. And it’s been incredibly fun to watch. The Bucks just pulled off their best west coast road trip in years, going 4-2 through a gauntlet of cities that have traditionally given them problems. They’re coming off a comfortable 116-98 victory over Sacramento — a game in which they seemingly were in the cruise position throughout, something that proved to be very relaxing for any fan out there.

Jump to tonight and you have a game with massive playoff implications. Just when it seemed as if the Bucks were dead in the water a few weeks ago, they’re now in a position to tie Atlanta in the wins and losses column for the No. 5 seed. Since March 3, Milwaukee has the best win percentage in the entire league (83.3 percent at 10-2). Unfortunately, the Bucks’ struggles against Atlanta means simply tying them in the standings won’t be enough.

The Bucks have battled the Hawks on three separate occasions this season — and have lost all several times (the worst of which being the home game in which they blew a colossal lead — we won’t go too far into that nightmare). That was an excruciating defeat and could end up having a major say in Milwaukee’s seeding moving forward as the Bucks won’t be able to acquire the tiebreaker over Atlanta. Hopefully for both the team and fan’s sake, history doesn’t occur twice in that regard.

The Bucks should seemingly have the advantage in this one. Atlanta is in a downward spiral and according to ESPN, will be without Paul Millsap. Let’s hope the Bucks can take advantage.

John Henson is still listed as questionable tonight with that left thumb sprain.

Hawks Update

As was just mentioned, things have not been going too hot in peach country. The Hawks have fallen from great heights, as they’ve now lost five consecutive games after their recent defeat in Washington.

How can the Bucks find success tonight? One key area: turnovers. In their loss to the Wizards, that combined with a scoring drought did them in. A Kris Humphries dunk provided the Hawks a 4-point lead with almost eight minutes remaining. However, they wouldn’t find any nylon for the next 4:41, allowing the Wizards to pull away. Combined with a few turnovers, it was a recipe for disaster.

We’ve seen just how feisty this Bucks team can be on defense during this improved stretch. Hopefully the Hawks will fall victim to it as well, just as other teams have fared recently. However, it’s important to realize that this is a ticked off team. They’ll be coming to the Bradley Center with a mean attitude. Don’t think they don’t know the implications of tonight. They surely do. That being said, expect them to come out and give it their all for 48 minutes.

It should be a good one — one with particularly important playoff implications. Kent Bazemore was also inactive last game, so he may not be available for the Hawks either tonight.

Before I leave, here’s a video to get you fired up for tonight: