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Milwaukee vs. Atlanta ECF Game 1: Hawks Steal Game 1, 116-113

Another sour Game 1 performance for the Bucks

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Another Game 1 and another disappointing performance for the Milwaukee Bucks. They were unable to get the job done in Game 1 of the ECF, as the Atlanta Hawks came into Fiserv Forum and stole home-court advantage, 116-113.

Milwaukee would start things off with some of the crispest ball movement we’ve seen from them all postseason. Cross-court passes, an inside/outside game, you name it. It was the largest reason as to why they were able to obtain a 28-25 lead after one quarter of play. The interesting factoid? They did so while shooting just 2-of-11 from deep.

The Bucks would play well enough to flirt with a double-digit lead in the beginning stages of the second quarter. However, Jeff Teague then came into the game and played six minutes. In that timeframe, Trae Young and the Hawks were able to exploit Milwaukee’s defense, paving a way to get back into the game. The Bucks were somewhat able to re-gain a level of control, as they settled into halftime with a 59-54 lead. Their first half shooting from deep? 4-of-18.

Things would remain pretty close throughout the third quarter, until the waning moments. With Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined, the Hawks (mainly Trae Young) would rattle off a momentum shifting run. It’d provide Atlanta with their biggest lead to date at nine points. The Bucks would chip away to close out the period and as things headed into the fourth quarter, the Hawks owned a three point lead.

The fourth quarter started with Trae Young on the bench for Atlanta. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they were just a +1 during these minutes. It’d remain razor close down to the final stretch. The Bucks would hold the lead until a Clint Capela layup that provided Atlanta a single point advantage. Things continued to go downhill, as Pat Connaughton would then airball a 3-point attempt. Khris Middleton would then miss a chance to tie it, and the Hawks would steal Game 1 by a score of 116-113.

Trae Young exploded for a game-high 48 points. He’d achieve those numbers by going 17-of-34 from the floor. He’d go 4-of-13 from deep and hit 10-of-12 from the line. John Collins was next in line with 23 points on the evening.

For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way, concluding his efforts with 34 points and 12 rebounds. He was an assist shy from a triple-double, tallying nine on the evening. It was a strong performance from Jrue Holiday, who concluded with 33 points.

What Did We Learn?

Once again, we learned what happens when Khris Middleton has a poor outing. He’d finish with 15 points with absolutely zero of those coming from the 3-point line. No matter how many threes he ended up taking (the final number ended up being nine), he couldn’t connect on anything. The rollercoaster of his postseason continues onward, as it’s been tough for him to develop a consistent pattern so far. In Coach Bud’s postgame presser, he discussed how he anticipates Middleton to be better. Khris will look to rebound in Game 2 on Friday.

Three Observations

Jrue Holiday had 33 points but the Bucks still lost.

All season long, it seems like it’s been impossible for Milwaukee’s big three to all have productive games. Tonight, it was Antetokounmpo and Holiday who led the way. They’d combine for 67 points on 28-of-50 shooting. Unfortunately, Khris Middleton was unable to replicate any similar success. It’s frustrating from the Bucks vantage point because these Holiday big performances don’t come around all the time, and this time, the Bucks were unable to take advantage. In his postgame availability, Holiday did discuss how he could make improvements. He highlighted an area of improvement on his aggressiveness with Trae Young on defense and a desire to make him work more. We’ll see how that translates into Game 2.

The offensive rebounds really doomed Milwaukee.

This is what broke the Bucks’ backs. In the final four minutes, Atlanta was able to snag five offensive rebounds — two of them being from Clint Capela. Those two offensive boards? One led to a massive John Collins three. The other provided Capela himself with an opportunity for a lay-in, which he converted. That would give Atlanta the lead — a lead that they would not relinquish. Had the Bucks not given these up, things could’ve gone very differently in the end. Unfortunately for them, the Hawks were able to outmuscle and get the second-chance points. All together on the night, Atlanta earned 17 second-chance points.

Trae Young is good at basketball.

Man, did Trae have a game. He’d erupt for a game-high 48 points. A lot of those came on the floaters, which we knew he’d get coming into this one considering Milwaukee’s drop defensive scheme. He wasted no time settling into that facet of the game and would ride it all night long. Now, the question is — how sustainable is this level of play from him? Surely, he won’t be able to score 48 points every night. Looking forward, how the Bucks are able to mitigate his effect will have a large impact on how this series will unfold. We’ll see if the Bucks can slow him down in Game 2 on Friday.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Early on, the Bucks’ ball movement was fantastic:

However, they weren’t able to keep it up all game.

  • David Bakhtiari may still be recovering from a torn ACL, but that doesn’t stop his beer chugging skills:
  • I’m still in disbelief that Jeff Teague received six minutes of playing time in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. During this time, Trae Young simply exploited him. It was a massive turning point in the game and provided Young and the Hawks with loads of confidence. How bad was that run for Milwaukee? Here it is:
  • Off the bench, Bobby Portis was able to provide a bit of a spark. He’d jumpstart things in the first quarter with seven points. However, he wouldn’t see much run from that point on. Despite that, the Bucks will take what he gave tonight, especially considering the potential for rust after not seeing much action during the Brooklyn series.
  • To start the game, Brook Lopez would try and get in Trae Young’s head:

When it was all said and done, Young would have the last laugh with his 48 points and a Game 1 victory. However, it is a best-of-seven series...

  • Last, let’s close this piece out with our #OldFriend Thon Maker’s wisdom...