Nothing gets a team’s confidence back like playing the Atlanta Hawks. The worst defense in the league faced off against the best defense and the nearly best offense in the league Friday night and it went just how you’d expect. Even in the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo (sore back) and the continued absence of Eric Bledsoe (leg), the Bucks got the job done handily, winning 112-86.
Milwaukee took care of business in the first two quarters, winning each 31-19 and 31-21 to allow themselves to coast to victory in the second half. Hawks’ star Trae Young rolled his ankle late in the second quarter and was out for the remainder of the game. Young is often Atlanta’s sole source of offense, but it feels fair to say that even if Ice Trae was able to go the rest of the way, the result wouldn’t have differed much.
Allen Crabbe took over the bulk of the scoring for Atlanta from the bench, hitting seven of ten shots for 20 points, the only Hawk to exceed 12 points for the game. As a team, Atlanta got up 41 total threes but made just twelve to keep them under 30% from deep and were only 36% from the field. Quite obviously, this isn’t going to get it done.
Milwaukee wasn’t particularly impressive but they understandably didn’t need to be. No one played more than 25 minutes, with Khris Middleton and Sterling Brown the only two to reach that number. Khris led the game in scoring with 23 on 10-19 and 3-6 from deep with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Ersan Ilyasova got the start for Giannis and made the most of it by finishing a team-best +37 with 18 points and SEVENTEEN rebounds in just 24 minutes. Honestly, Giannis-like numbers. Turkish Thunder also was efficient in his time by shooting 7-8 from the field and hit both of his three attempts.
The Bucks had a much better shooting night as a team than on Christmas day. 50/40% splits will win you games when you have an elite defense and that’s exactly what Milwaukee did in Atlanta. Additionally, the Bucks grabbed ten more rebounds and dished out nine more assists to leave nothing to chance.
This felt much more like the typical Bucks’ game we’ve become accustomed too and most likely similar to what we will see in the next nine games, as they are all against sub-.500 teams.
Next up will be the Orlando Magic at Fiserv Forum tomorrow night. Tip is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.