After losing their fifth game in their last seven, it would be safe to say the Milwaukee Bucks are in a bit of a rough patch. Now, there are reasons as to why they’ve hit a bit of a skid, primarily being that they were dealing with another string of health and safety protocols. So now they’ll hit the road for an MLK Day matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, who have had their struggles this season.
This will be the second of three games between the two teams that met in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The Hawks won the first game back on November 14th by 20 in a game where the Bucks were without Khris Middleton, Donte DiVincenzo, and hadn’t signed Wesley Matthews. Still, that could be considered one of their worst losses of the season, allowing Trae Young to drop 42 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists, and hit eight 3s.
They’ll be without Jrue Holiday once again due to ankle soreness, so containing Young will be at the top of the list of priorities. Speaking of which…
How will the Milwaukee Bucks defend Trae Young?
So Young went wild in their first meeting and the Bucks had Holiday, so how will things go for the defending champs without their All-Defense guard?
Well, the Bucks have fared pretty well in their last couple of games against high-scoring guards. They held Steph Curry to 12 points on 50 percent true shooting and a 45.5 percent effective field goal rate. Then, they slowed down Fred VanVleet in their most recent meeting to the tune of 17 points on 45 percent true shooting and a 44 percent effective field goal rate.
Those two, while obviously different tiers of players, drew special attention from the Bucks’ defense. You routinely saw their defender (most of the time it was Wesley Matthews) face-guarding them and not leaving them for any reason.
When they moved off-ball, going around screens, they were bumped, nudged, chipped, whatever terminology you’d like to use. Expect to see a lot of that against Young with Holiday out.
Only one other Hawk scored more than 15 points (John Collins, 19) in that first meeting. Young is the straw that stirs the drink for the Hawks’ second-best offense (112.5 offensive rating) and they’ll need to do better than they did in the first meeting if they want to pick up a road win.