In an early-season rematch of the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks snuck by the Atlanta Hawks by a 123-115 final score thanks to the late-game heroics of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday. They both paced the Bucks with 34 while Trae Young led all scorers with 42. Milwaukee is now 5-0 on the young season, the lone remaining undefeated team in the NBA.
Brook Lopez came out guns-a-blazin’ from deep in this one, nailing his first five shots from downtown on the way to 19 first-half points and making up for a 1/7 start from Giannis. Perhaps with some tired legs from last night’s tilt, Milwaukee had to battle back from down 6 in the first’s early minutes, ending the quarter up 32-30. 17 of those Atlanta points came from Young... but he was scoreless in the second. The Bucks D’d up by snatching up some loose balls and closing out better on Hawks shooters, maintaining a multiple-possession advantage through much of the quarter, leading by a 59-51 halftime margin.
Though Giannis picked things up out of the locker room en route to a 13-point quarter, Young poured in 16 of his own to draw the Hawks ever closer. Atlanta was +1 in the third thanks primarily to him, but Holiday had 14 of his own to keep a 91-84 Bucks edge. As the Hawks closed to within two about midway through the fourth, Giannis went to work down low, racking up trip after trip to the charity stripe. Unfortunately, he missed a few too many, and the Hawks tied it at 104 with 4:36 remaining. A Young three gave Atlanta a momentary lead, quickly erased when Giannis demolished John Collins underneath the rim. The lead stayed within three thereafter. Giannis and the Atlanta stars traded big jumpers in the final minute, then Jrue Holiday hit a clutch floater to put Milwaukee up 118-115 and 27.8 left. Atlanta didn’t even get the ball in bounds on the next play due to an offensive foul on De’Andre Hunter, and they resorted to fouling Holiday upon Milwaukee’s inbounds pass. The Hawks hardly even got the ball back thanks to a Wes Matthews offensive rebound and a Young turnover, allowing Giannis to put it away with an emphatic fastbreak dunk with 5.3 left.
Stat That Stood Out
Though Giannis finished with 34 points on an efficient 22 shots, he was surprisingly -10 on the evening. Much of that occurred during the opening minutes as he finished the first -9, so he erased any “damage” rather well en route to his fourth consecutive 30-plus point outing. I’ll chalk that plus/minus up to an early-season, SEGABABA abnormality.
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