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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Atlanta Hawks Preview: ECF Rematch on MLK Day

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NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everybody, and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day to everybody in the United States. The holiday has long been one of the biggest days on the NBA calendar, and the Milwaukee Bucks will play their part by playing the Atlanta Hawks down in Georgia. You may remember the Hawks from last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, Milwaukee’s last opponent before reaching the NBA Finals. Which they won. Which was awesome.

Where We’re At

If the Milwaukee Bucks play a basketball game, but it’s not broadcast on national television, did it really happen? Of course it did, but the team is presently treating their primetime performances differently than your everyday, run-of-the-mill regulation games. Milwaukee had been on a tidy six-game win streak before dropping two home games against Detroit and Toronto. No matter, they blasted the Brooklyn Nets on national TV...then lost a pair to the Hornets. But everything is fine, since they obliterated Golden State, again on the big stage! And to follow that up, a rough second home loss to the Raptors. Are you seeing a pattern here? If you do, and you’re feeling lucky, the Bucks are (as of Sunday) favored over the Hawks by 4.5 points, so clearly the oddmakers know about how differently the TNT/ESPN Bucks show up, compared to the Bally Sports/League Pass Bucks. On the health side, Milwaukee is still without Brook Lopez, as well as Jrue Holiday, who continues nursing an ankle injury.

Down in The A (are people still calling Atlanta “The A?”), it has turned into a disappointing campaign for the Hawks. Last season’s plucky underdog is eight games below 0.500 (17-25), and has compiled since December 1 a record of 6-15, punctuated by an ugly five-game losing streak. Hey Siri, when’s the last time the Atlanta Hawks won a home game?

Perhaps a late-afternoon tilt on the national broadcast is just what the Hawks need, though they’ll have to seek their first home win (in 11 tries!) without Clint Capela (ankle) or former Buck Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee).

Player To Watch

Bobby Portis has had a career resurgence with the Bucks, winning a ring in his first year with the franchise and looking every bit of the sharpshooting big off the bench this time around. Last season, most people were willing to stomach his defense in favor of his offensive contributions, but one difference this year is that his defense seems to have been upgraded. Is that due to personal development or schematic changes? Bobby has never been adept at the zone drop, but his agility makes him a better fit for a more aggressive defense...something that Trae Young is notorious for exploiting. How will Bobby POTUS fare today in this matchup?



Poll

Game 46: Against Atlanta, the Bucks will...

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Win big (by 10 or more points)
    (35 votes)
  • 38%
    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (28 votes)
  • 6%
    Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
    (5 votes)
  • 6%
    Lose big (by 10 or more points)
    (5 votes)
73 votes total Vote Now

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