The Atlanta Hawks moved to 3-0 in Game 1 this postseason with another road victory, this time over the Milwaukee Bucks. Trae Young was again spectacular, bending the Bucks defense to his will throughout the night, while John Collins and Clint Capela were ready to make Milwaukee pay inside when they paid too much attention to Young. Below are a few takeaways from the Game 1 win.
Floaters, floaters, and more floaters
Young is the most prolific floater artist in the NBA, while the Bucks give up that shot at a higher rate than any other team. As you may expect, Young was aggressive searching for that shot throughout the night, starting with the first possession of the game.
Now, ATL's opening possession.— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) June 24, 2021
Actually a solid showing from Jrue, mixing in overs (initial PnR, second PnR) and an under (pitch from Capela).
But look at how deep the drops are from Giannis and Brook. This is setting the stage. pic.twitter.com/T6VZxpEd1m
The double ball screens made it nearly impossible for Jrue Holiday, one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, to check Young. He was constantly battling over and around screens, resulting in Young essentially being able to get wherever he wanted.
The other issue with the Double Ballscreen is that if the Bucks want to keep Jrue on Trae, then he has to navigate both screens and can't get caught under, leading to Trae getting downhill easier: pic.twitter.com/rVq1uQQefg— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) June 24, 2021
Milwaukee’s deep drops leave that shot open for the taking, and Young is happy to oblige. The Bucks ended up changing their coverage to more switching later in the game, something that resulted in different sets of issues.
Playing drop against Trae is risky as is, but the only way it works is with great screen navigation at the POA. Can't give him space to probe like this: pic.twitter.com/XGpEX6IE8m— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 24, 2021
Here, Giannis Antetokounmpo is pulled out of the perimeter and the Bucks can’t secure the rebound after two different missed shots by the Hawks, resulting in a John Collins corner three.
Ofcourse playing small might stop Trae and his scoring, but the dilemma is having Giannis on Trae takes away his rim protection and rebounding. Here the Bucks cannot finish the possession and Collins gets a huge 3: pic.twitter.com/0CsLLYUshk— Half Court Hoops (@HalfCourtHoops) June 24, 2021
This coverage made things tougher on Young individually from a scoring perspective, but Atlanta actually had better offensive rating as a team in the second half.
Giannis at the 5. Not just switching, but put-a-body-on-the-slip-man switches.— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) June 24, 2021
Possession peters out. pic.twitter.com/AAkPf5dNpm
Perhaps the Bucks overcompensated. Despite Young having 25 points in the first half, Milwaukee still lead 59-54 despite lackluster shooting. All-in-all, Young was a complete monster throughout the night, totaling double-digit points in all four quarters, and accounting for 80 points per Synergy.
Trae Young created, assisted, or scored 80 of the 108 points Atlanta scored while he was on the floor during Game 1.— Synergy Basketball (@SynergySST) June 24, 2021
Clint Capela being Clint Capela
Capela struggled at times against Joel Embiid in the second round, but that’s to be expected. Embiid is an unstoppable force. In Game 1 vs. the Bucks, Capela was everywhere. He pulled down 19 rebounds, guarded Antetokounmpo more than any other Hawks defender, and had the go-ahead bucket off an offensive rebound late in the game.
He made Antetokounmpo work for his touches, and cleaned up on the glass. He was an integral part of Atlanta coming away with the win.
Clint Capela was awesome last night pic.twitter.com/h39KB7kglH— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) June 24, 2021
Capela’s defense is going to be huge this series obviously with him drawing the bulk of the Antetokounmpo matchup, and while the two-time MVP still got his numbers, Capela did a nice job of making things tough and being in the right spots.
Collins’ big second half
Collins posted 17 points and nine rebounds in the second half alone, totaling 23 and 15 in the contest as a whole. He had a huge three-pointer that pulled the Hawks to within one late, and had an enormous physical impact on the second half, much like he did in the series win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Collins now has four double-doubles in his last five games, and has looked rejuvenated since looking a bit lost early in the series vs. the Sixers. His presence on the offensive glass must be respected, and the same goes for his three-point shot. He’s a highly versatile weapon, and he has risen to the challenge here in these last few games.
Closing things out down the stretch
The Hawks again showed an innate (inNate?) ability to close out a tight game. Starting with clutch play by Young, Atlanta was again able to string together baskets at the most important time of the game.
Young and Collins combined for 18 of the Hawks’ 28 fourth-quarter points, leading them another narrow win on the road. Atlanta is now 6-2 on the road this postseason, and 10-1 in their last 11 road games decided by five points or less.
Since March 1, the Hawks are 13-2 in games decided by 5 points or less (10-1 on the road, 5-1 in the playoffs)— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) June 24, 2021
The Hawks trailed 105-98 at the 4:00 mark in the fourth, but outscored the Bucks 18-8 from that point. Young shot 10 of his 12 free throws in the final period, making nine of them.
The Bucks just missed shots
Milwaukee shot 22.2% (8-of-36) from three-point range, and many of them were open looks. Khris Middleton shot 6-of-23 from the floor and 0-of-9 from 3PT, totaling just 15 points. Holiday made five of the Bucks’ eight threes, and while he and Antetokounmpo got what they wanted inside, Milwaukee wasn’t able to make the Hawks pay nearly enough when they got good looks from behind the arc.
It figures that the Bucks will not shoot 22.2% from three again in Game 2, but the Hawks did shoot 25% (8-of-32) from three in their own right. There will plenty of things to monitor — perhaps mostly how Milwaukee decides to defend Young to start Game 2 on Friday night. Atlanta leads another series 1-0 on the road, and will look to move to 2-0 for the first time this postseason in Friday’s matchup.