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Preseason Recap: Milwaukee Bucks 113, Atlanta Hawks 123

At least we got the first glimpse of Giannis this season!

Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks - NBA Abu Dhabi Games 2022 Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

One hour before the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks tipped off, reporters got tipped off that this game would immediately become more entertaining. The end result of a 123-113 loss may not have delivered the good preseason vibes for all fans, but watching Giannis Antetokounmpo play was enough warm and fuzzies to carry us till Saturday for a rematch between these two.

Not only did we get our first glimpse of Giannis, but it felt pretty special for this crowd as they cheered after every single free throw that went down for him. The Fiserv Forum crowd should follow that lead this season. And don’t worry, we only had to wait five minutes for our first charge call on Giannis.

The first quarter featured a lot of set-up by the stars for their supporting players, with Jevon Carter, Bobby Portis and Grayson Allen joining Giannis in the scoring column to secure a 33-32 lead after one.

DeJounte Murray started carving up Milwaukee’s defense with his floaters and midrange game, but the offensive fireworks didn’t cease on the Bucks side either thankfully. Carter was piping hot and tied with Giannis for the team lead point total at 14, with Milwaukee behind 71-67 at half despite 3-14 shooting from three for Atlanta.

The third quarter didn’t feature a clampdown of any kind as the Hawks kept walking into the midrange and floaters Milwaukee wanted them to, but the Bucks bounced back from a 14-point deficit at one point to trail merely 101-94 as the fourth quarter hit. The scrubs couldn’t pull this one out, but we did finally get some additional extended time with MarJon Beauchamp on the floor; who looks to me like he still needs a healthy dose of seasoning before he may crack Bud’s typical rotation. Atlanta won out by dominating Milwaukee in the midrange, shooting 62.5% on two-pointers and only attempting 22 three-pointers to the Bucks’ 40. Hey, at least that’s a mark in the “allow fewer threes” column!

Still, the most important takeaways from this one were that both Giannis and Jrue came away unscathed despite the excessive travel and early start time. It gave the NBA a chance to showcase this team in front of a new audience, and they delivered with cheers aplenty. We’ll have another chance to see an early tip on Saturday against these same Atlanta Hawks, so savor this if it ends up being our only chance to see Giannis on this trip.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • I kept waiting for Wes Matthews to shout-out Rocky Rococo’s while he was addressing the crowd pregame for the first NBA games in Abu Dhabi. Take “Kitchen Licks” international!
  • Bobby Portis talked at media days about how he rectified the problems he faced with Boston running him off the three-point line in last year’s Playoff run. His release on a spot-up from the corner in the first quarter looked pretty quick. Do folks think it’s any faster than season’s past?
  • Bud was on the actual sidelines for this game in a boot. I only recall seeing him stand in the fourth quarter.
  • Grayson Allen’s season-high last year for OREB in a game was two. He had two in the first four minutes of this contest. I’ll give you three guesses who was guarding him on that end for Atlanta...
  • We got another entry in the Holiday-on-Holiday-on-Holiday family contest in this one, with Jrue even guarding his younger brother Aaron straight-up for a spell. All three brothers played in this one with Justin now on the Hawks.
  • MarJon Beauchamp got his first insertion into the game a smidgen into the second period, before Jordan Nwora saw the floor. He had two fouls fairly quickly, including an ill-advised one on Murray as he attempted a three-pointer. Fouling was a problem for him in the Summer League, so he needs to learn how to better defend without grabbing the attention of the zebras. I can’t say I was all that surprised then when in the third quarter, Jordan Nwora got run before him. Perhaps it was planned that way all along, but...
  • All that being said, Beauchamp did hit a pretty stepback corner three that we certainly haven’t seen as part of his game yet.
  • Sandro Mamukelashvili got lots of early run for this game as part of the backup rotation. It’s probably a smart move given I don’t think preseason games count against his 50-game quota for appearances with the main club while on his two-way. He ended with five points on four shots.
  • One of the enjoyable low-key new realities of being a 2022-23 Bucks fan is that defensively, I no longer raise an eyebrow when I see them switch. It’s a far cry from a few years ago when it took still trailing the Charlotte Hornets in the fourth quarter as the single siren that told Bud it might be time to switch on that end. The versatility is appreciated and necessary.
  • I was quite surprised when Holiday threw a lob pass in the second half to Giannis that he actually couldn’t corral and slam down. At this point, I expect almost anything within his vicinity to stick to his web and get spun through the net.
  • Jevon really has been on fire ever since he put on a Bucks uniform. I still wonder whether his size will diminish his potential impact in the Playoffs, even with his doggedness, but hitting triples at a 40+% clip all season long will make it tough to keep him off the floor in backup PG minutes. He had 17 points on just 10 shots; 5-6 from deep.