In an awesome weekend for sports (World Series, Packers Sunday night game, amazing college football) hopefully the Milwaukee Bucks won’t get lost in the mix.
The 4-0 Milwaukee Bucks take on the 4-1 Atlanta Hawks Saturday night in downtown Milwaukee. This is game 4 of 6 of the unusual home stand to start the year we discuss quite a bit in this space. At home, right now the Bucks lead the league in rebounding and blocks and are in the top ten in a whole host of other important categories. Is being at home helping give this team an advantage? You bet it is!
The Hawks are coming off a back to back in Detroit, where they played the Pistons twice in a week with a day off in between. The Bucks do that next week, except the Pistons come here to Milwaukee. (Oct. 31st/Nov. 2nd). Does a team just stay in town when they play two games over the course of three days? (I’ll continue to investigate and promise not to bore you with my small obsession over NBA travel schedules.)
Vegas has the Bucks at a 59% chance to win the game and 5 point favorites.
Keys for the Bucks
The keys for the Bucks will be to not let their two losses in Abu Dhabi factor into this game. That was the preseason: those were warm-ups. Giannis only played 21 minutes across both games. Whatever happened over there has to be left in the preseason past.
Another key for the Bucks will be to rebound the ball, a major strength so far for this team. Giannis is second overall in the NBA in rebounding (13.3 a game). The Bucks, as a team, are currently ranked number one overall in the NBA (53 rebounds a game). The Bucks need to play to their strength and continue the dominance on the boards.
Finally the Bucks need to continue to “out-coach” their opponents. Coach Bud hasn’t gotten much credit yet for bringing in a very new staff and getting them up to speed as quickly as he has. His ability to help control the tempo of the game through timeouts deserves some recognition.
The Opponent: The Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks have added Dejounte Murray in the off season. It has made a huge difference on their team. He is averaging 20 points a game, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Murray is also 5th right now in the NBA in steals. All of this has proven to be a really strong #2 complement to Trae Young. Young is leading the NBA in assists and is 11th in scoring. He can flat out shoot.
John Collins is a good, strong interior presence. Unlike the Bucks, the Hawks are in the bottom third of the NBA in team rebounding. Clint Capela has gotten off to a slower start by his standards. Former Badger hero Frank Kaminsky is on the Hawks. He does not play a ton but you can always look for his familiar face.
The Hawks also have Justin Holiday on their team. He is the oldest of the 4 Holiday siblings. Of course his brother Jrue is our beloved point guard.
Things to tell your buddies as you are watching the game
- When you think Hawks you have to think Dominique Wilkins. Born in Paris, France, Wilkins is a hall of famer. Today, he is the play-by-play analyst for Bally Sports Atlanta.
- The Hawks went 43-39 last year and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Of course, Bucks fans will always remember beating the Hawks in the eastern conference finals on their way to the NBA championship in 2020-2021.
- Mike Budenholzer really made a name for himself as the head coach of the Hawks. In 2014-2015, he led them to a 60-22 season, losing in the Eastern Conference finals. Led by Al Horford, a career-year from Jeff Teague, and Paul Milshap, that coaching staff looks remarkably similar to some of the names we know of today. Lakers head Coach Darvin Ham was on that staff, as was key Bucks assistant Charles Lee.
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