The game got off to a horrible start, with Milwaukee suffering from multiple defensive breakdowns and having their offense stuck in the mud. The rest doesn’t matter...all that matters is the health of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
What We Learned
I thought the Milwaukee Bucks were extremely soft with the ball offensively in the loss. This issue stuck out like a sore thumb in the first and second quarters when the Hawks were able to strip Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton with relative ease.
Credit to Atlanta, they were the aggressors early and got through seemingly EVER screen that was set for a ball handler out on the perimeter. I am not sure what was going...were the Bucks just not ready for the physicality ATL was throwing at them? Make no mistake, this threw the Bucks off their rhythm and I also thought the Bucks focused too much on complaining to the refs about a lack of fouls being called. In all, they turned the ball over 15 times.
Jrue Holiday once again struggled offensively. As stated earlier, he was one of the Bucks who really struggled with the pressure from Atlanta’s defense. There were a few possessions where he dribbled into a turnover or tried to pinpoint a pass that no chance of being completed. I love his tenacity defensively, but at times he is far too aggressive, especially far ahead of the perimeter. Lou Williams baited him into numerous foul calls last night. Going from guarding Trae Young to Sweet Lout is an adjustment for sure, but that’s how Lou has made a lot of money! By getting to the foul line. No one was good for Milwaukee last night, and I don’t blame them for mentally checking out once Giannis departed with a scary knee injury. Holiday finished with 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting.
The Atlanta Hawks shot the ball better when the Bucks defended well. It was that sort of night, and we got a glimpse of it in the opening minutes with the home team burying some deep three-pointers. Granted, there were multiple breakdowns the first seven minutes of the first, but I thought when set, their defense improved drastically after a timeout with four minutes left until the second. ATL shot 50% from the field and made only 13 threes, but when it seemed like the Bucks were about to get a stop and force the Hawks into heavily contested jumpers late in the shot clock...it went in. Cam Reddish and Bogdan Bogdanovic hit some crazy shots in what was a game where they could do no wrong.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was just starting to get going before departing the contest. The first half was very painful for him that included a total of three airballs, two of which came from the foul line. The crowd at State Farm Arena was LOUD and Giannis was clearly bothered by it at the line. It didn’t stop him from attacking the basket, though. He was able to get in the open floor and get to the paint in the third quarter, and even reeled off three straight makes. Unfortunately, he went down trying to hustle and make a defensive play on Clint Capela who had an open alley-oop. His night ended with 14 points, eight rebounds, and three assists on 7-of-10 shooting. I feel sick to my stomach. Lost for words. Hopeless. I truly am holding out hope for the best in this scenario as we’ve seen Giannis be an iron man before. Unfortunately, it looked like a pretty bad hyper-extension of his knee. Again, I am no doctor, but it’s hard to believe this is just a “sleep it off” type of injury. I feel TERRIBLE for him. He has fought through adversity his entire life and has always come out on top. If anyone can recover from this, it’s him.
- Bogdan Bogdanovic taunting after hitting threes once Giannis departed was hilarious. You couldn’t even tell he was injured with how he was moving last night.
- Like most of the starting unit, Khris Middleton just couldn’t buy a bucket. Not only that, it looked like he wanted no part of the Hawks because of how physical they were with him. They also took away the baseline from him and tried to get him to spots where he is uncomfortable. It worked. He shot 6-of-17 from the field.
- Pat Connaughton had some good moments in the first quarter, keeping a few possessions alive by being scrappy on the offensive glass. That was it, though.
- P.J. Tucker had a decent first quarter as well, hitting two corner triples when the Bucks were really going through it offensively.
- Brook Lopez finished with 7/5 in 25 minutes.
- The Bucks shot 39.3% from the field and 20.5% from deep.