Despite Trae Young’s absence, the Milwaukee Bucks missed an opportunity to be able to close the series in five games as they dropped this one to the Atlanta Hawks, 110-88. With this loss, the Eastern Conference Finals is tied up at 2-2.
The game was scheduled to start at 8:30pm Eastern time, but the Bucks must have still had their clocks set to Central, because they stumbled their way into a 15-5 Hawks lead in the opening minutes. It was a Bucks skeptic’s dream; Milwaukee couldn’t hit shots, couldn’t hang onto the ball, and couldn’t keep up with Atlanta’s ball movement. The Bucks eventually clawed their way back to respectability, with some hard work on the offensive glass and both teams shooting poorly, the Hawks’ advantage vacillated between 2 and 7 points for much of the late first and early second quarters.
The Hawks kept playing like a team with nothing to lose, moving the ball around with purpose and finding decent looks while collapsing in on the paint on defense and daring the Bucks to beat them with jump shots. As a result, the game turned into a slog as Milwaukee simply couldn’t generate enough consistency on offense in the first half to capture any momentum, and halftime came with the score favoring Atlanta, 51-38.
The Bucks showed some signs of life in the second half, but everything came to a screeching halt when Giannis Antetokounmpo injured his knee defending an alley-oop and took a long, long time to limp back to the locker room.
Giannis appears to have suffered a serious knee injury after this awkward landing pic.twitter.com/0in8nooI6s— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) June 30, 2021
Scary moment in the 3rd quarter.— Stephanie J. Sutton (@Steph__Sutton) June 30, 2021
Giannis down on the ground and had to be helped off the court. pic.twitter.com/LxSSPR3SdT
Giannis Antetokounmpo walking off the floor. pic.twitter.com/0JxLQ1Wa2E— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) June 30, 2021
He did, however, come back out after only a few minutes in the locker room…
Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo has returned to the bench pic.twitter.com/HaedMuNhvP— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) June 30, 2021
…but he ended up sent backstage again, and during his absence the Hawks had ripped off a 12-2 run and put the Bucks down 20 points. Milwaukee, clearly discombobulated, ended the third quarter down 87-62, but the game was effectively over the minute Giannis and Clint Capela collided on the ground.
More basketball happened in the fourth quarter. I wasn’t really paying attention, to be honest, and in all likelihood neither were you.
Stat That Stood Out
The only number that matters is 34. After playing 24:02 and starting to get to his spots in the third quarter, Giannis did not return to the game with a reported hyperextended left knee. Without Giannis, the Bucks are a ship without a rudder; they might end up somewhere, but it certainly isn’t likely to be where you want to go.
We’ll likely know the fate of the franchise in the morning. Until then…we wait.