If you made it this far, congratulations! We’re halfway through the regular season. Today, the Milwaukee Bucks are still on the road, this time traveling south to take on the struggling Atlanta Hawks. These two teams clashed in the Conference Finals during Milwaukee’s championship run two years ago, and since then neither team has returned to those heights...though the Bucks still boast a top-3 seed while Atlanta is fighting to avoid the play-in tournament.
Where We’re At
The online discourse surrounding the Bucks nearly reached a fever pitch on Monday night. After a miserable loss at home to the lowly Charlotte Hornets, most expected Milwaukee to pick things up right away in their next game, which happened to be a road trip starting out in New York City. After all, that’s how the Budenholzer-era Bucks historically respond to a disappointing outing. Despite a woefully bad first half, the discontentment was kept from boiling over thanks to a thrilling second-half comeback led by Joe Ingles and Jrue Holiday. The bad vibes are still there, but the Bucks pulling off a huge comeback win on the road goes a long way to calm things down.
Meanwhile, Atlanta recently escaped a collapse of their own, pulling out a win against the wayward Clippers to punctuate their recent road trip. In general, the Hawks have been unimpressive, largely due to Trae Young and his failure to live up to prior expectations. To be fair, Atlanta has missed Bogdan Bogdanovic (remember him?) for much of the season, and the Dejounte Murray pairing with Young hasn’t translated into winning ways yet. Still, the Hawks have a 2-1 lead over the Bucks for the season series, demonstrating that their talent level is higher than their overall record might suggest.
Atlanta is still without starting center Clint Capela, while the Bucks are missing Khris Middleton and Serge Ibaka, who did not travel with the team for “personal reasons.” There has been some chatter speculating that Ibaka is unhappy with his role on the team, but given that he was out with the illness that had plagued the Bucks for weeks and has been pretty washed in his minutes played in Milwaukee, “speculation” may be as far as it goes.
Player To Watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo is once again an MVP candidate, despite the perception that he’s having a “down” year. But here and there across the NBA, there are players who give him a remarkably hard time. Atlanta’s Onyeka Okongwu is one of those players. With Capela in street clothes, the third-year center is the rare combination of agility, size, and toughness that can handle the physical punishment that Giannis imposes on his opponents. He’s just a remarkably gifted player to be able to keep up with the Greek Freak, and with Giannis having a handful of disappointing (statistically-speaking) outings lately, it’s worth watching to see if he can right the ship against Atlanta.
Game 41: Against Atlanta, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
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)
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