Game in Review: Milwaukee Bucks @ Atlanta Hawks – February 20

Feb 20, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 20, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives against Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks let Giannis and Jabari shine as they lead the way to a close road OT victory.

Starting Lineups – Milwaukee Bucks: O.J. Mayo, Khris MiddletonGiannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari ParkerMiles Plumlee

Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, Al Horford

Before we get to tonight’s preview, yup, you heard right: it sounds a lot like Steve Novak is dusting off his sneakers in preparation of a signing-on with the Milwaukee Bucks. Via Marc Stein of ESPN:

Truly a time to be alive. Catch our analysis of the news here, and prepare yourselves for a Chris Copeland-less future on the horizon.

With that backdrop, the Bucks flew south and got the opportunity to face 5th-seeded Atlanta in which the Hawk’s 4th-in-the-league defensive efficiency (102.6) would go toe-to-toe with Milwaukee’s less-than-inspiring 25th placed ranking (108.7).

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After a good set of looks last night against Charlotte, it would be interesting to watch whether Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker could continue to expand their game against a team better equipped to handle their attack. 19 shots by Parker last night was a big highlight, so would he follow it up tonight?

Surely, one cannot say they disappointed, at least. Giannis either scored or assisted on the first six Milwaukee scores, Jabari continued to attack from the baseline for some power dunks, and passing was the name of the game.

Of note was how confident Giannis looked with the ball in his hands facilitating or creating his own jumpshot (!!!) with ease. A couple of jumpers later, and he opened up the spacing he needs to utilize his length in iso towards the rim.

With Michael Carter-Williams and Greg Monroe in, however, things seemed to gunk up on some level or another. The primary issue was that the offense revolved around their shooting and ability to space the floor. When the shots didn’t fall and everyone stood inside the paint things ground to a standstill in a hurry.

Luckily, with time and foul trouble, the Giannis-Jabari-Middleton trio grabbed hold of the offense once again on their way to a combined 13-for-27, 35 point, 13 rebound and seven assist half. For the most part, everything else from the second quarter on was much like pouring highly concentrated acid directly into your eyes.

Somehow, amid turnovers, hero ball, and fantastic Atlanta passing, the Bucks were actually up at the half, 54-50.

The second half on offense was much like the second quarter featuring heavy post play, albeit with slightly more passing between Bucks. Greg Monroe continued to struggle against a stalwart Atlanta interior defense, but would turn things around on his way to a 22 point and nine evening.

A so-so shooting first half didn’t appear to be the case, however, for the stars of Giannis and Jabari as they began to once again take control. This sort of sequence was highly indicative of the chemistry on display:

The Hawks decided to get hot and close the gap in a hurry to push things to a tie and a virtually reset game with 8:54 remaining, both sides at 78. For a majority of the night, one couldn’t exactly say with confidence just how the Bucks were still in this game. That trend would eventually go full circle down the stretch.

Frustratingly, even when the Bucks doubled up on Paul Millsap in a bid to slow his scoring tempo, it proved enough to free other Hawks who received plenty of entry passes off cuts and off-ball picks.

As Milwaukee tried to stem the tide, Parker appeared unafraid to keep shooting no matter the circumstance, and that mentality got him to his first back-to-back set of 20+ point nights as he finished with a very encouraging 28 points and 13 rebounds. Giannis joined him with a double-double of his own with a 19 point, 12 rebound and three assist performance.

It would take impossible feats of athleticism to bring things to a positive close, and Jabari was willing to at least try…

As the clock ticked away, the officiating crew had some difficulties retaining control on things, and both sides appeared to have valid claims at being harmed by poor calls. Given that situation, it shouldn’t be a surprise that neither team began to pull away with any sort of lead. Giannis fouling out with 1:11 left simply capped that front.

Atlanta, down one, would get the final possession for the chance at the win. Luckily for Milwaukee, Mike Scott decided to take matters into his own hand and clanged a three off the front rim, setting things up for O.J. Mayo free throws… which he missed, leaving it at a two-point game.

MCW’s decidedly odd choice to fall down let Dennis Schröder get to the basket alone to tie things at 94. :03.0 gave the Bucks a beat of life, though Jabari couldn’t convert on a jumper, shooting after the buzzer. OT for us, then.

The chaos followed in the extra time, and it became a duel of traded baskets the entire way. Things got desperate late:

A final Monroe put-back would grab another slim lead, but unfortunately Atlanta managed to tie things up yet again! Time for double overtime.

Double overtime was not nearly as dramatic as the rest of the game was. Michael Carter-Williams opened with three consecutive baskets, and the Hawks failed to score until there were under 50 seconds remaining in the overtime period.

125. 117. 89. Final. 109

Be sure to come on back Monday night as the Los Angeles Lakers visit for Kobe Bryant‘s final game in Milwaukee!