After a quick jaunt down south, the Milwaukee Bucks are returning to Fiserv Forum for an Eastern Conference Finals rematch against the Atlanta Hawks, before embarking on a four-game road trip out west.
Where We’re At
If you blinked, you might have missed that the Bucks are proud owners of a five-game winning streak. They’re favored pretty strongly over Atlanta in this matchup, making it plausible that they’ll extend the streak to six tonight. Save for a furious fourth-quarter comeback against the Bulls, the Bucks have managed to triumph over all comers since a maddening loss to Brooklyn following the All Star break, which is a welcome sight since they’re entering the hardest part of their schedule.
And nobody’s paying attention to Milwaukee, not really. Just as we predicted.
The Bucks will continue to be without Pat Connaughton, George Hill, and Brook Lopez, with Grayson Allen’s status up in the air with his lingering hip issue. Jordan Nwora replaced him in the starting lineup and played relatively well against the Thunder; it makes sense that he might repeat as a starter on the second night of a back-to-back.
From Atlanta, it’s been a bumpy ride. After making it out of the second round last year, Atlanta will struggle to make it into the play-in tournament this time around. They’ve managed a pair of seven-game win streaks over the course of the season, but the rest of their schedule is marred by the two- or three-game skids that undermine efforts to reach the conference finals, and they just dropped an overtime game to the Pistons. The Hawks are currently fully healthy (only Kevin Huerter is day-to-day with a shoulder issue), so they’ll give the Bucks all they can handle...it just so happens that the Bucks can handle the Hawks the way they’re playing right now. From Peachtree Hoops:
The Hawks continue to struggle to find consistency, going 5-5 in their last ten games. Their offense continues to be elite, scoring 114.2 points per 100 possessions. That number is good enough for second in the NBA, but Atlanta finds themselves under .500 largely due to their sub-par defensive efforts this season.
Player To Watch
Trae Young is always worth the price of admission. The diminutive point guard hits long-range bombs and places well-timed alley oops from all over the court, so it’s safe to say that the show will be a fun one. But how will the Bucks contain him with their current lack of guard depth? Jrue Holiday will be fine (you know, as long as he takes the game seriously) but he might be assigned elsewhere. Newcomer Jevon Carter has been thrust into the regular rotation since Hill and Connaughton became unavailable (not to mention the shipping-out of Donte DiVincenzo), and he’ll see plenty of minutes hounding Trae up the court when Atlanta has the ball. Will it be enough to keep the rest of the defense together against a motivated Hawks team?
Game 67: Against Atlanta, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)