After advancing through the first two rounds of the mail season, the Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks are set to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. The winner of the best of seven series between the teams advances to the NBA Finals – a place that neither team has been in any time. Milwaukee’s last conference title came back in 1974, while the Hawks have never advanced to the finals since moving to Atlanta in 1968. The Hawks last won a title in 1958 when they were placed in St. Louis. Louis. The Bucks are searching for their first title since 1971, when they were led by Hall-of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
There will be no shortage of star power in this series. The Bucks are led by two-time NBA MVP and former Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Hawks are run 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 pears ready to earn many more over the course of his career. The game of these two stars, and which one is capable of being more effective, is likely to go a long way in determining the outcome of the series.
Here’s a look at the series schedule and three things you need to know before the showdown between No. 3 bucks and No. 5 hawks.
(3) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (5) Atlanta Hawks
- Game 1: Wednesday, June 23, 8:30 PM ET (TNT)
- Game 2: Friday 25. June at 20:30 ET (TNT)
- Game 3: Sunday 27 June at 20.30 ET (TNT)
- Game 4: Tuesday, June 29 at 20:30 ET (TNT)
- Game 5: Thursday 1 July at 20.30 ET (TNT) *
- Game 6: Saturday 3 July at 20.30 ET (TNT) *
- Game 7: Monday, July 5, 8:30 PM ET (TNT) *
- Bucks need to do a better job at Young than the Knicks, 76ers did
It’s no secret that Trae Young’s offensive end production is central to the Hawks’ success. Young has so far been absolutely stunning in the playoffs, averaging 29.1 points and 10.4 assists over 12 games against the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers. He had three points on more than 30 points against the Knicks, and he followed that up with another three against the Sixers. It’s no coincidence that the Hawks went 4-2 in those games, because when Young is at the peak of his strength – hitting shots and putting his teammates up with open opportunities – the Hawks become extremely tough to topple. The Knicks were largely unable to contain Young at all, and while Philadelphia did better, he was still able to make more than enough play to lead the Hawks to a disruption over the top-seeded Sixers.
Young is especially deadly out of pick-and-roll, where he has the ability to pull himself up from the depths or get into the paint and force the defense to collapse. Once in the paint, Young can either hit a nice float over a defensive line or find his teammates at the edge or in the perimeter. He gave both the Knicks and Sixers a pass to make play out of this action, and it must be assumed that it will continue to be a big part of Atlanta’s offensive offense against Milwaukee. If they want to move on, the Bucks will have to do a better job of limiting Young’s influence in this area than New York or Philly did. The good news for Milwaukee is that at Jrue Holiday, they have an excellent opportunity for a primary defender at Young. Holiday wants his hands full, but he should at least be able to make things harder on the Atlanta star guard.
Which team gets more from their bench?
It’s no secret that rotations shrink in the playoffs, as starters tend to play more minutes than they did in the regular season. This trend only increases as the game after the season continues, so it is safe to say that we see starters for both teams playing many minutes in the series between the Bucks and Hawks. But that does not mean that bench production is not important. In fact, the opposite is true. Often, the team that is able to get a bigger boost from their bench in a series is able to move on, and that may also be the case in this series. With starters playing the majority of the minutes, no matter which team is smaller in a drop-off in production, when forced to turn to reserve play, it has an advantage in a series. The Hawks have so far had an average of 29.6 bench points per game. Match in the mail season, while the Bucks have an average of 23.5. Keep an eye on the bench production in the series between the two teams, because the team that gets more help from their reserves may ultimately be the team that advances to the NBA Finals.
Goats must use their size to their advantage
With a front line consisting of Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez, the Bucks are a physically impressive team and they have to lean on their size in the series against Atlanta, which is not that big. The trio Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Lopez have averaged 65.1 points and 28.6 rebounds per game. Fighting in the mail season so far, and their ability to damage the paint job was a big part of why they were able to move past the Brooklyn Net’s final round. With a starting front line consisting of Clint Cela, John Collins and Kevin Huerter, the Hawks are likely to have a hard time limiting Milwaukee’s paint production. The Bucks are a solid 3-point shooting team, but they can’t fall in love with that shot against Atlanta, as they should instead look at taking advantage of size matches and doing as much damage to the paint as possible.