Bucks’ center Zaza Pachulia returns to Atlanta for first time since leaving in free agency
“NOTHING EASY! NOTHING EASY! WE GOING TO GAME SEVEN BABY!”
Only a guy with limited English speaking skills could make a post-game interview turn out this epic. Moments after the eight seeded Hawks forced a game seven from the eventual NBA champion Celtics in the opening round of the 2008 playoffs, Zaza Pachulia delivered an in-the-moment interview that embodied the reason Hawks fans loved (and continue to love) the big galoot.
Despite bowing out of the playoffs in a game seven loss, the Hawks (37-45) defied all odds and nearly pulled off the upset of all upsets. This was largely done on the back of the Georgian cult hero Zaza Pachulia. Not to say that the center lead the team in any statistical categories (except maybe most uncomfortable uses of the word “baby”), but he provided this Hawks squad with a toughness and resiliency that was infectious.
Fast forward nearly six years to the spring of 2014 and Zaza is still the same center with a “nothing easy” attitude. Returning to the team that gave him one of his first opportunities in the NBA, he now wears a Bucks uniform. In a difficult season for the team and him personally due to injuries, he has provided some great mentoring and leadership for a team without an identity. He is a character that will be loved no matter what city he goes to and the fans in Atlanta still have a soft place in their hearts for him. This Hawks-related twitter account perhaps puts it best.
There is first love and then there is @zaza27 love.
— Hawksdawgs (@hawksdawgs) March 12, 2014
The Bucks’ head coach Larry Drew is also making his first visit back to the city he lead to three straight playoff appearances in his first three years of head coaching prior to coming to Milwaukee. Although he is not the character that Zaza was in his tenure in Atlanta, I am hopeful that Drew will receive his proper homecoming from the fans of the Hawks during Thursday night’s game in the Phillips Arena.
Thursday’s match up between the Milwaukee Bucks (13-51) and the Atlanta Hawks (27-35) will showcase two struggling teams. Even though the Hawks are in possession of the eight seed in the Eastern Conference, they are 2-8 in their last 10 games and will have their hands full trying to remain in playoff contention. The Bucks are still sitting at number one in the tank rank but have strung together six straight 100 point offensive efforts lead by guard Brandon Knight who has scored in double figures in a career best 19 games in a row.
Not So Fun Fact of the Day
– The Bucks have not won two straight games since their March 19, 2013 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. If they wish to not run this streak over a year, they’ll have to win either Thursday and Saturday, Saturday and Sunday, or Sunday and Tuesday.
Projected Starting Line Ups (w/Nickname Jersey Options)
Hawks (nicknames via Wesley Morton)
C — Pero “Mash-adonia” Antic
PF — Paul “Grit ‘N Grind” Milsap
SF — DeMarre “Junkyard Dog” Carroll
SG — Kyle “Ashton Kutcher” Korver
PG — Jeff “Agent 0″ Teague
C — Zaza “Nothing Easy” Pachulia
PF — John “Inspector Gadget” Henson
SF — Khris “Sleepy” Middleton
SG — Nate “The Great” Wolters
PG — Brandon “The Dark Knight” Knight