Ten observations from Bucks 117, Hawks 106 . . .
1. Maybe the Hawks were just tired. They were playing an afternoon game and their third contest in four days. For whatever reason, the Hawks were flat out of the gate, fell behind by 15 points after less than 10 minutes and never really recovered. The Hawks gave a better effort in the fourth quarter but there would be no rally this time: the 13-point halftime deficit grew to 19 after three quarters and never was less than 11 in the fourth.
“They did a great job,” Hawks guard Dennis Schroder said of the Bucks. “Came out with energy and we didn’t match it the first five minutes.”
2. The Bucks cause problem with their length but I thought some halfhearted passes were a sign of the lack of energy and/or focus for the Hawks. They had three turnovers within their first seven possessions (and a couple more near-turnovers). The Hawks had six turnovers in the first quarter, leading to 13 points for the Bucks, and five of those were deemed “bad pass” giveaways.
“I thought there were times when their (Bucks) hands were good,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We were maybe trying to make the right pass and they were getting deflections and we were getting turnovers. Some of it was just their length. But I thought when we moved the ball there were a lot of good shots we were able to generate.”
Said Schroder: “Their defense is pretty intense. After the pick-and-roll you try to pass to the roller but (with) their length it is tough to get to.”
3. Mike Muscala got first crack at guarding Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who promptly made two jump shots (including a 3) over him. Then Antetokounmpo muscled past Muscala for a score in the post. Then he passed out of a double team to Tony Snell for a 3-pointer. Just like that, the Hawks were down 12-2 and Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer called a timeout.
4. Taurean Prince took the next turn on Antetokounmpo and slowed the Bucks star somewhat. Meanwhile Rashad Vaughn came off the bench and hit a couple of threes, one of them on a pass from Antetokounmpo, and the Bucks were up 26-11. That prompted another timeout by Budenholzer.
5. Antetokounmpo’s final line: 33 points (21 shots), five assists, 12 rebounds. Fouling him in the open court might have been the best strategy for the Hawks. Budenholzer: “I liked the way our guys took the challenge both individually on Antetokounmpo and collectively.” Yet Antetokounmpo was hardly the only problem. The Bucks extended their lead with Antetokounmpo on the bench in the second quarter and his plus-seven for the first half was only fourth-best for Milwaukee.
6. Vaughn was inactive for three straight games before Sunday. He shed his street clothes just in time to take advantage of the Hawks’ generous three-point defense: 4 of 6, all in the first half.
7. After the Hawks limited Denver to 20 three-point attempts, a low for an opponent this season, the Bucks launched 25 attempts and made 13. The Hawks don’t have the scoring to win many games if foes can get off so many three-point shots.
8. The Hawks were a little better in the second quarter than the first, with Isaiah Taylor figuring prominently. During an eight-minute stretch he made a three-pointer, recorded two assists against no turnovers and was a team-best plus-5 in the period. Taylor ended up playing 16 minutes compared to seven for Malcolm Delaney, who stayed on the bench after halftime. “Isaiah hasn’t been with us long but when he’s been on the court, his speed and his ability to get to the paint and his willingness to pass and collapse defense and find guys,” Budenhozler said.
9. Ersan Ilyasova is out at least a week because of a bone bruise in his left knee. Muscala started in his place, same as the previous two games that Ilyasova missed, and Luke Babbitt logged 14 minutes. Budenholzer continues to use rookie John Collins almost exclusively at center.
10. Collins bounced back from his poor performance against the Nuggets with 14 points (seven shots), seven rebounds and a block in 25 minutes. Collins was active around the basket and a threat while rolling to the hoop, forcing the Bucks to foul him to prevent attempts at the rim.
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