The Milwaukee Bucks have started their season on a roll, collecting wins as they prepare for their first back-to-back of the season against the Atlanta Hawks Saturday night in Fiserv Forum. It’s a chance for Bud and crew to make up for their two losses against Trae Young and the Hawks over in Abu Dhabi during the preseason.
Where We’re At
Milwaukee has been riding on the back of Giannis Antetokounmpo for this early wave of the season. He dropped consecutive 40+ point outings against the Rockets and Nets, pulling the Bucks away late in the latter game for the win. He powered Milwaukee again against the Knicks, keeping their perfect record intact through 30 points, 14 boards and nine assists. Nobody seems able to slow him down right now, although the Hawks have put forth a top-ten defense thus far as opposed to a middling to below-average offense, an inverse from previous years. Still, the Hawks will have to pin their hopes on Onyeka Okongwu and pray he can frustrate Giannis and hold him under 30 I guess.
Meanwhile, Atlanta is bustling out of the gate with their newly revamped backcourt of DeJounte Murray and Trae Young. It should be noted though that their victories have come against the likes of Houston, Orlando and Detroit, not exactly the cream of the crop across the NBA. But wins are wins. The Hawks lead the league in terms of shots from the midrange, but are near last in terms of three-point frequency, posing an interesting conundrum for Bud’s defense. Does he allow Murray, a lethal midrange sniper, and Young, a floater extraordinaire, to get loose while his help defenders stick to their man? Or does he pinch folks in a bit to throw off the rhythm of Atlanta’s stars. A worthwhile chess match for this early in the season.
Player to Watch
We saw Jrue Holiday do his best in the two-man pick-and-roll game during the two preseason outings, but the Hawks generally ate Milwaukee alive on the defensive end. Was that simply a product of preseason and a wonky travel schedule? This will be a decent test to see, although Atlanta projects to have one of the better offenses in the league. Thus far, Holiday and the Bucks have been winning through defense, and they’ll need it in this one to pull out the victory.
Game 5: Against Atlanta, Milwaukee will....
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Win big (10 or more points)
Win close (9 or fewer points)
Lose close (9 or fewer points)
Lose big (10 or more points)