The Atlanta Hawks will try to end a six-game losing streak when they return home on Sunday. The opponent awaiting them is the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who are on the final leg of a five-game road trip.
Atlanta did not win on its four-game swing against Western Conference teams. The venture concluded with a 105-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday. Milwaukee lost 122-113 in overtime to the Boston Celtics on Friday, ending a two-game winning streak.
This will be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Milwaukee defeated Atlanta in six games in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals last season. The Bucks clinched that series with a 118-107 win on Atlanta’s home court.
The Hawks will be happy to return home, where they are 3-1 this season. Their first loss came to Utah on Nov. 4 before going on the long road trip.
“We’ve got to go home and make up some ground,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said. “It’s just as simple as that. We knew the road was going to be tough and we weren’t able to get a win. We’ll have a couple of home games and we have to make up some ground, take care of business at home.”
Hawks forward John Collins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I see a team that underachieved (on the road trip). … We’ve got to look in the mirror and understand what each of us needs to do to win.”
The Bucks hope to get Giannis Antetokounmpo back on Sunday. He was a late scratch on Friday night because of a right ankle injury sustained in the previous win over Philadelphia. He is averaging 26.6 points, 11.8 rebounds and six assists this season.
“He kind of tested it a little bit twice and he’s just not able to go,” Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said Friday. “He’ll do everything he can to get back as soon as possible.”
Milwaukee has been without Khris Middleton because of COVID protocol since Oct. 31, but he is expected to be available on Sunday. Other injuries, which include Brook Lopez (back) and Donte DiVincenzo (ankle), have caused the Bucks to use seven different starting lineups this season.
Without two of their top players, Milwaukee had trouble stopping Boston’s Dennis Schroder, who scored 38 points, with eight coming in overtime. The bright spot for the Bucks was Pat Connaughton, who started for Antetokounmpo and scored 15.
“We tried to go out there and play our brand of basketball,” Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis said. “We fought back, we got back into it and gave ourselves a chance to win.”
The Hawks continue to play through injuries to Bogdan Bogdanovic (right ankle) and De’Andre Hunter (right wrist). They missed the game with Utah on Tuesday, but returned on Friday. However, Hunter, considered one of Atlanta’s best defensive players, missed most of the second half of the Denver game when the pain became intense.
“It was pretty sore coming into the game, and in the second half he took a shot and it just didn’t feel right, so I had to pull him,” McMillan said.
–Field Level Media