After years of heartbreak, this may be the year the Milwaukee Bucks will finally make the NBA Finals and possibly win it all. This is the belief of many analysts after they booted out the Brooklyn Nets who were initially the heavy favorite to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy. But standing in the Bucks’ way are the young and feisty Atlanta Hawks who unexpectedly beat the top seed Philadelphia 76ers in seven games.
The Hawks’ play, led by the emergence of guard Trae Young, has impressed fans and analysts alike. In just his third year in the NBA, he already has a keen understanding of the game at a very high level.
While the Bucks are still the favorites, the Hawks have proven that they’re not an easy team to beat. They’ve pretty much defied all forecasts that they’ll be kicked out of the NBA Playoffs early due to their inexperience. Against the Bucks, we might see the Hawks in full bloom. So don’t be surprised if the Hawks will upset the Bucks and make their way to the NBA Finals.
Trae Young Getting Better Every Game
Trae Young is the main reason why the Hawks can upset the Bucks. By now, it’s clear that the man is a superstar. We can no longer compare him to Stephen Curry or Jason Kidd or any of the other guards who came before him. Young is a player of his own making. With this in mind, Hawks fans should expect Young to play close to perfect basketball against the Bucks.
This early in his career, Young can already read defenses quickly. He has developed a mastery of the pick-and-roll. Statistics reveal that the Hawks run this offense with Young as the ball handler 58.2 percent of the time. This generates 17.5 points per game, which ranks first among the remaining postseason squads.
Other statistics reveal Young’s excellent understanding of the game. He averages 22.2 drives per game (third behind Ja Morant and Luka Doncic). He has that dreaded floater which no one can seem to stop. However, he doesn’t just spam this move over and over again. Numbers show that Young passes the ball 43.6 percent of the time during drives. This yields 4.1 assists, which leads the NBA.
Hawks Have the Players to Contain Giannis
Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is on top of Hawks coach Nate McMillan’s priority list. It is true that the Bucks have many offensive weapons such as Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, but Mike Budenholzer’s offense revolves around Giannis most of the time. Apart from doing damage in the paint, Antetokounmpo’s rebounding and defense are the main reasons for the Bucks’ success. This may be the main reason why the Bucks were able to oust the Nets. The Steve Nash-coached squad literally had no one to match up with him.
But unlike the Nets, the Hawks have Clint Capela and John Collins. Capela is built like a traditional big man who can stand toe-to-toe with Giannis’ brute strength. On the other hand, Collins is a more mobile forward who can stay in front of Giannis. The numbers don’t necessarily prove this point though. In their regular season matches (2-1 to the Bucks), Giannis basically got what he wanted and when he wanted. He shot an excellent percentage from the field and from the free throw line as well.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the Hawks the postseason, they can will their way to victory despite the odds stacked against them. The Philadelphia 76ers were better at every statistical category but due to a perfect game plan by McMillan and execution by the players (as well as Ben Simmons), they were able to boot out the Sixers.