Mar 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) brings the ball past Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) during the second half at Philips Arena. The Hawks defeated the Bucks 98-90. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Milwaukee Bucks Game Preview: Playoff Push Continues as Atlanta Comes to Town

So far this week, the Milwaukee Bucks have faced off against two Eastern Conference Playoff teams — the Pacers and Hawks — on the road. In those two games, Milwaukee went 0-2, with an average point differential of 16 and an average shooting percentage of 34%. Needless to say, the Bucks are very much looking forward to the next row on the calendar.

But before they can start a new week, the Bucks (34-34, 18-16 home) will look to bounce back on their home floor as they welcome the Atlanta Hawks (37-31, 16-18 road)- a team they’re chasing in the Eastern Conference playoff race- to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Sunday afternoon (tip-off at 2:00 PM CT, no local TV).

Despite losing in Atlanta in Tuesday, the Bucks are just three games back in the loss column to the Hawks, who currently hold the 5th spot in the Eastern Conference. Milwaukee sits just 1.5 games back of Boston for the 7th spot, while Atlanta is chasing Brooklyn for the conference’s 4th seed and opening round home court advantage. With Atlanta winning the first two meetings between the two, they’ll look to win the playoff tiebreaker in this game.

The Bucks are Hawks are meeting for the second time in four days, as the two squared off in Atlanta on Wednesday. Milwaukee’s poor shooting night (37.4% from the field) along with a lackadasical defensive performance (that allowed Jeff Teague to drop 27 points and 11 assists) resulted in a 98-90 loss

Milwaukee’s offensive struggles the last two games can largely be accredited to Ersan Ilyasova‘s absence due to a hip injury he sustained a week ago today vs. Orlando. Ersan had been playing spectacular basketball before his injury and really provided a steady scoring option for the Bucks. When Ilyasova is spreading the floor, it opens up opportunities for everyone else — especially Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis — to get to the basket.

It looks as if the Bucks will get their X-Factor back for Sunday afternoon’s game.

Projected Lineups

Hawks: Jeff Teague, Devin Harris,  Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Bucks: Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Marquis Daniels, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders

Injury Report

Zaza Pachulia (achilles): out
Ivan Johnson (back spasms): gametime decision
Ersan Ilyasova (left hip pain): likely to play
Luc Mbah a Moute (turf toe): out

The Four Factors

Offense Four Factors Defense Four Factors
Rk Team ORtg DRtg Pace eFG% TOV% ORB% FT/FGA eFG% TOV% DRB% FT/FGA
14 Atlanta Hawks 104.6 104.1 92.3 .519 14.5 22.3 .167 .494 14.2 73.9 .181
19 Milwaukee Bucks 103.6 105.1 94.6 .475 12.7 27.7 .181 .490 14.4 71.1 .203
League Average 105.6 105.6 92.0 .495 13.7 26.6 .204 .495 13.7 73.4 .204
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/24/2013.

Defense wins games over the Atlanta Hawks. Winning games over the Atlanta Hawks helps secure the 7th seed.

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Tags: Atlanta Hawks Ersan Ilyasova Milwaukee Bucks

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