After making it through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks are expected to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. The best-of-seven between-team series winner will advance to the NBA Finals – a spot neither team has held for quite some time. Milwaukee’s last conference title came in 1974, while the Hawks have never made it to the final since moving to Atlanta in 1968. The Hawks last won a title in 1958 when they were sited. in St. Louis. The Bucks are chasing their first title since 1971, when they were led by Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The power of the stars will not be lacking in this series. The Bucks are led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, two-time NBA MVP and former Defensive Player of the Year, and the Hawks are propelled by rising star Trae Young, who is only in his third season in the league. Young made his first All-Star team last season, and he looks set to do a lot more in his career. The play of these two stars, and which one is capable of being the most effective, will likely go a long way in determining the outcome of the series.
Here’s a look at the show’s schedule and three things to know ahead of the No.3 Bucks vs. No.5 Hawks clash.
(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
Series tied 1-1
- Game 1: Hawks 116, Bucks 113
- Game 2: Bucks 125, Hawks 91
- Game 3: Sunday, June 27, 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Game 4: Tuesday, June 29, 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Game 5 *: Thursday, July 1 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Game 6 *: Saturday, July 3, 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Game 7 *: Monday, July 5, 8:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Bucks need to do a better job on Young than Knicks, 76ers have
It’s no secret that Trae Young’s production on the offensive end is critical to the Hawks’ success. Young has been absolutely outstanding in the playoffs so far, averaging 29.1 points and 10.4 assists in 12 games against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. He had three more than 30-point performances against the Knicks, and he followed three more against the Sixers. It’s no coincidence that the Hawks have gone 4-2 in these games, because when Young is at the peak of his powers – hitting shots and giving his teammates open opportunities – the Hawks become extremely difficult to knock down. The Knicks were largely unable to contain Young, and while Philadelphia did a better job, he was still able to make more than enough plays to lead the Hawks to upset the seeded Sixers.
Young is particularly lethal outside of the pick-and-roll, where he has the ability to ascend from the depths or enter the paint and force the defense to crumble. Once in the paint, Young can either strike a nice float above an approaching defender or find his teammates at the edge or on the perimeter. He’s given the Knicks and Sixers some fits by making plays of this action, and it has to be assumed that that will continue to be a big part of Atlanta’s offensive attack on Milwaukee. If they want to progress, the Bucks will have to do a better job of limiting Young’s impact in this area than New York or Philly. The good news for Milwaukee is that at Jrue Holiday they have a great option for a main defenseman over Young. Holiday will have his hands full, but he should at least be able to make things more difficult for the Atlanta All-Star Guard.
2. Which team will get more from their bench?
It’s no secret that rotations decrease in the playoffs, as starters tend to play more minutes than in the regular season. This trend only increases as the playoffs grow longer, so it’s safe to say that we’ll see starters on both teams playing plenty of minutes in the series between the Bucks and Hawks. But that doesn’t mean bench production isn’t important. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Often times, whatever team is able to get a bigger boost from their bench in a series is able to come forward, and that could be the case in that series as well. With the starters playing the bulk of the minutes, the team that suffers the least drop in production when forced to turn to reserve play has an advantage in a series. The Hawks are averaging 29.6 bench points per game in the playoffs so far, while the Bucks are averaging 23.5. Keep an eye out for bench production in the series between the two teams, as the team receiving the most help from their reserves could ultimately be the team that advances to the NBA Finals.
3. Males should use their size to their advantage
With a frontcourt made up of Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, the Bucks are a physically imposing team, and they have to build on their size in the series against Atlanta, which isn’t quite as tall. So far, the trio of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Lopez have averaged 65.1 points and 28.6 rebounds per game in the playoffs, and their ability to damage paint was a big part of why they have was able to overtake the Brooklyn Nets in the final round. With a first starting line made up of Clint Capela, John Collins and Kevin Huerter, the Hawks are likely to have a hard time limiting Milwaukee’s paint production. The Bucks are a strong 3-point shooter team, but they can’t fall in love with this shot against Atlanta as they should instead be looking to exploit the size differences and do as much damage as possible in the paint.