The (short-handed) Atlanta Hawks are struggling at the moment, losing 13 of their last 15 games, including seven straight. While the schedule has been quite difficult during that stretch, things aren’t going to get easier this week, with the Hawks beginning a three-game road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
The entire trip comes against teams projected to make the playoffs, with visits to Indiana and Houston. The first task is difficult on its own, however, with the Bucks widely considered to be the class of the Eastern Conference. Just one week ago, Atlanta was competitive against Milwaukee at home but, with the change in venue and ensuing struggles, the Hawks are currently 14.5-point underdogs at Fiserv Forum.
Atlanta’s most difficult task is containing Giannis Antetokounmpo, with the reigning MVP posing a match-up threat against virtually any opponent. The Hawks are especially challenged when it comes to versatile defenders in the frontcourt in the absence of John Collins, leading to Jabari Parker and the team’s centers being forced to guard one of the best players in the world. For good measure, Antetokounmpo threw up a 50-point output in Milwaukee’s last game and he is surrounded by a quality offensive infrastructure that includes the return of Khris Middleton on Wednesday.
When searching for optimism — beyond the presence of Trae Young and the chances that he’ll simply explode offensively — in this game, the Bucks don’t necessarily profile as a team that will take advantage of Atlanta’s weakness on the defensive glass. Milwaukee is a bottom-10 team in offensive rebounding and, aside from their centerpiece, this isn’t a team that will overwhelm the Hawks with athletic force. In addition, the Bucks don’t force many turnovers and, statistically, Atlanta’s biggest offensive issue is a lack of ball security.
Injury-wise, there is some uncertainty for the Hawks in this match-up. Young (right ankle sprain), De’Andre Hunter (right knee contusion) and Cam Reddish (left wrist sprain) are listed as probable and, by extension, are likely to play. However, DeAndre’ Bembry (right hip contusion) is questionable and the Hawks would miss his defensive play-making if he were unable to play.
Stay tuned throughout the day and be encouraged to utilize the comments below as a “game thread” for the action.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, Nov. 27, 8:00 pm ET
Location: Fiserv Forum
TV: Fox Sports Southeast, NBA League Pass
Radio: 92.9 The Game (Atlanta); Hawks Radio Network
Streaming: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass