The 2021 NBA playoffs have been nothing short of exciting and crazy thus far. Nobody expected the Atlanta Hawks to be in the Eastern Conference Finals, but here they are. They now are facing off against the heavily favored Milwaukee Bucks. Before we dive into this series, let’s take a look at both team’s recent form and their paths to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The 5th seeded Hawks have had an interesting underdog story in these playoffs. Taking down the Knicks in the first round, Trae Young was electrifying and was destined to make his presence known in the Playoffs.
He did just that in the second round against the 1st seeded Philadelphia 76ers. Sure, Joel Embiid was playing on a torn meniscus, but the Hawks still were underdogs in this series and were able to steal 3 games on the road, which is very hard to do. Role players like Kevin Huerter, Lou Williams, and Danilo Gallinari were huge impacts for the Hawks and helped Young and Collins throughout.
The Bucks were the best defensive team in the NBA in the regular season and showed why in the first round of these playoffs. They got revenge against the Miami Heat for their semifinals loss in the bubble just last year. Sweeping the Heat in 4 games, Giannis and Khris Middleton were absolutely unstoppable. After a close game 1 that went into OT, the Bucks won the remaining 3 games by 15 or more points.
Easily advancing to the next round, they were facing off against the heavily favored, NBA Championship contender Brooklyn Nets. Many people thought that the Nets were going to win this series easily, but when James Harden got injured in the first minute of Game 1 things started to change. Things were going downhill very quickly for the Bucks as they went down 2-0 very quickly, but they were headed back home to Milwaukee where they haven’t lost a game since the middle of April.
Kevin Durant’s incredible Game 7 was historic, but it sadly wasn’t enough to get the job done. Giannis was almost outshined by Durant’s historic performance, and he dropped 40 points. In the end the Bucks were able to show why they were the best defensive team throughout the season and held the Nets to only 2 points in the OT period.
ECF Game 1
It will be very interesting to see what goes on in this series. The last time the Bucks were in the ECF, they lost to Kawhi Leonard and Toronto in 6 games back in 2019. The last time the Hawks were in the ECF they lost to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015.
However, with game 1 on Wednesday night here are a few things that you should expect to see happen in MIlwaukee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will have another big night, the Brooklyn Nets threw every type of defense at him and they still weren’t able to contain him. His playoff run this year has been spectacular and has really put his team on his back. I expect more of the same in game 1 this series. The Hawks really don’t have anyone at Giannis’s size to have the speed and strength to keep up with him for 48 minutes.
On the other side, Trae Young will have a great game 1. His ability to understand, and get cheap foul calls, will benefit him and allow him to get free points. I have also said multiple times before that he is one of the few players in the league with a high level of IQ. He can create plays off of pick and rolls at an exceptional level.
It will be a great game 1, that will be nothing short of crazy excitement just like the rest of these playoffs. As much as I love an underdog story, the Bucks are just a better team and have the advantage of playing in front of their home crowd, where they are undefeated in these NBA playoffs.
Milwaukee wins 104-95.