The game opened with a bucket from Giannis at point-blank range, and he made a point of attacking the rim often in the opening stanza (going 3/3 in the first 5 minutes). Atlanta still held serve in the first quarter, fueled by some nifty scoring from one-time Buck(?) Bogdan Bogdanovic, who had 10 in the first quarter, which ended in a 33-29 Milwaukee lead. Some hot shooting from deep helped Milwaukee pad their advantage over the course of the second quarter, but a massive 13-0 run late in the period – which included a dunk from Jeff Teague! – pushed the Bucks to lead at halftime, 64-52.
Whatever locker room speech Nate McMillan delivered to his team must have worked, as Atlanta jumped out to a 10-1 run almost immediately in the third quarter, evaporating Milwaukee’s once-sizable lead. Trae Young tied the game on an and-one (that doubled as his first bucket of the game) about halfway through the third quarter, and a Bogdanovic three gave Atlanta a blink-and-you-missed-it lead. The Milwaukee bench once again intervened to stabilize the Bucks’ efforts, rebuilding a double-digit lead and starting the fourth quarter right where they started the third, ahead 94-82. Atlanta stuck to it in the fourth quarter and fought their way back from a 19-point hole to make it a single-digit game inside of the two-minute mark, but Milwaukee managed to manufacture enough stops to build a lead the Hawks couldn’t overcome.
Stat That Stood Out
You know the Bucks are closely managing Giannis' minutes when they take an intentional foul less than 6 minutes into the third quarter just to get him off the court.— Frank Madden (@fmaddenNBA) April 16, 2021
The productivity of the Bucks’ non-starting lineups deserves attention, but the story for the Bucks begins and ends with Giannis, who played less than 25 total minutes (24:52, to be precise). Giannis appeared to move normally and attacked the rim with his trademark reckless abandon, and there was no reported minutes restriction placed on him. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, just that one wasn’t reported. Perhaps his playing time was more limited because it was his first game back in nearly two weeks, and with eighteen games left there’s enough time for him to work himself into playoff shape. Still, Bucks fans will rest easier knowing that Giannis is all the way back, not just technically back.
An honorable mention goes to Khris Middleton, who passed Michael Redd for second-place on the Bucks’ franchise ranking for made threes. He now only trails Ray Allen for the team’s all-time top spot, which he’ll likely not claim until early next regular season considering how few games are left on this year’s schedule.
Khris has passed Michael Redd for 2nd on the Bucks All-Time Threes List!! pic.twitter.com/PjLATAbUnG— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 16, 2021