3 takeaways from Milwaukee Bucks’ outright ugly loss to Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 17 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 17 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: George Hill, Atlanta Hawks: Kevin Huerter, John Collins
ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JANUARY 17 (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

With just two victories in their last eight games, the Milwaukee Bucks have been spiraling out of control lately.

Their most recent loss came last night versus the Atlanta Hawks in a game that has caused some justifiable concern. The Hawks had lost 10 consecutive home games leading up to Monday’s game against the Bucks, their most recent home win coming all the way back in November. Atlanta had been outright awful on their home floor lately, but Milwaukee ultimately did not take advantage of the opportunity, despite having a commanding lead for most of the game. After the Bucks led by double digits, the Hawks rallied back and claimed their very first lead of the game in the latter half of the fourth quarter and held on to secure a 121-114 win over the defending champs.

This one stings for the Bucks. Not only does it hurt to be the team that the Hawks snap their ugly home losing streak against, but it came in gut-punching fashion as they blew another double-digit lead. With yet another loss in this brutal eight-game stretch, the Bucks have to take a long look at themselves in the mirror and right the ship. Before they get a chance to do so on Wednesday, here are three takeaways from last night’s loss to the Hawks.

The Milwaukee Bucks have missed Jrue Holiday lately, and the Atlanta Hawks took advantage of his absence

A sizeable portion of Milwaukee’s recent struggles can be attributed to Jrue Holiday’s absence from the lineup. The guard has missed the last six consecutive games with ankle soreness, and they have clearly missed him. Obviously, replacing what Holiday brings to the table on both ends of the floor is virtually impossible, which has plagued the Bucks. Still, every team is dealing with their own absences, and the champs would not get any sympathy.

Not having Holiday for this matchup made things difficult on defense, given that he would typically be given the assignment of guarding Trae Young. Without their best guard defender, they would be forced to call upon other Bucks like George Hill and Wesley Matthews to defend the All-Star guard, and the results were mixed. Young shot a pedestrian 7-of-17 from the floor, including 2-of-6 from behind the arc, but he made the Bucks pay with 14 free throw attempts. With Milwaukee’s prolific three-time All-Defensive guard unavailable, Young took the game over late as he scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone.

Offensively, Hill did not do much to fill the void as he scored a mere five points on 2-of-5 shooting, including 1-of-5 from three. Sure, the Bucks never asked Hill to replicate Holiday’s production, but he did not show any aggressiveness whatsoever for most of the game aside from a questionable 3-point attempt late in the game that missed. At this point in his career, Hill is best suited to be a backup, if not the third-string point guard on this roster.

Last night was just another game that showed how much the Bucks need Holiday. Thankfully, the former All-Star could potentially be back in the lineup on Wednesday as the Bucks will square off against the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies. Given that they also have an elite point guard in Ja Morant, having Holiday’s services, particularly defensively, would help the Bucks tremendously. Yet, if he is not yet ready to return, the Bucks will have to find other ways to combat Morant.