The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, two teams trending in different directions, will meet for the second time in the last week on Wednesday in Milwaukee.
The Bucks have won eight in a row after their 122-118 victory of the Utah Jazz on Monday. The Hawks have lost seven straight after dropping a 125-113 decision to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.
The Bucks withstood a furious Hawks finish — 44 points in the final quarter — to beat Atlanta 135-127 on Nov. 20. Milwaukee has won eight of its last nine games against Atlanta.
Milwaukee continues to ride the talents of 2018-19 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored a season-high 50 points and snagged 14 rebounds against the Jazz. He has posted a double-double in 17 consecutive games, the longest such streak to start the season since Bill Walton began the 1976-77 season with 34 straight. Antetokounmpo did not have a turnover in nearly 39 minutes on Monday.
‘I’m impressed, I’m not going to lie to you,” Antetokounmpo told reporters. ”Great game and all that. My second 50-point game of my career. Doing it with zero turnovers and all that, that’s great. I see that they made 21 3s, and as a team we were still able to be in the game and still win the game. At the end of the day, all that matters is a win.”
Antetokounmpo had 33 points and 11 rebounds in its first meeting with Atlanta. He averages 20.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 21 career appearances against the Hawks.
The Hawks have struggled without power forward John Collins, the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder. He has missed 12 games as part of his 25-game suspension for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy and the Hawks have won only twice in his absence.
Atlanta continues to lean heavily on second-year point guard Trae Young. He followed Saturday’s triple-double effort against Toronto by posting 37 points, six rebounds and nine assists against the Timberwolves. Young averages 26.6 points and 8.7 assists per game this season.
Young has stepped up his offense Collins’ absence. He’s scored 25-plus points in eight of those 12 games. Likewise, veteran Jabari Parker is average 16.9 points for the season — and 17.3 points since moving into the starting lineup.
The Hawks have also been pleased with the development of rookie guard De’Andre Hunter. Although the Virginia product struggled to score seven against Minnesota, he had a recent stretch of eight straight games in double figures, including a career-high 27 in the first meeting with Milwaukee.
But the young team continues to have issues on the defensive end. That’s where the youth and inexperience have the most ill effects.
“We had a lot of undisciplined play,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We were leaving strong-side shooters open, we were double-teaming in the post when we weren’t in that coverage. It was the lack of discipline on a lot of our defensive positions that got us in trouble.”
The Hawks did get rookie guard Cam Reddish back after he’d missed two games with a sprained left wrist. But Atlanta remains without perimeter threat Kevin Huerter (left rotator cuff) and Milwaukee is still playing without Khris Middleton (left thigh bruise).
The teams play two more times, in Atlanta on Dec. 27 and in Milwaukee on April 12, 2020.
–Field Level Media