Ah yes, the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. The matchup that everyone expected to see throughout the season.
All sarcasm aside, these playoffs have been absolutely crazy and one of the best in a very long time. But with all of these surprise teams emerging in each series, we have seen many all-stars fall victim to the injury bug.
Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young was the latest star to suffer an injury in this year’s NBA playoffs, in a very ironic play as well. In the third quarter of Game 3, he was actually injured by accidentally stepping on the foot of a referee, probably the same ref he was crying about calls to.
He is now listed as questionable for the Hawks going into game 4, and if he were to miss this game, it would be detrimental to this team. He is their number one source of offense with his scoring ability and elite playmaking. We saw just how bad the offense was in the 4th quarter when Young was basically on one leg, as they only scored 17 points and lost their lead.
Game 3 Recap
Khris Middleton was absolutely exceptional in Game 3, scoring a game-high and tying his playoff-high 38 points. He scored 20 points in the 4th quarter and proved to the basketball world that he still can take over games. Giannis Antetokounmpo also played well after starting off slow, scoring 33 points with 11 rebounds.
Jrue Holiday was his usually unuseful self, scoring a whopping 6 points in 42 minutes and allowing Trae Young to score 35. Sure he was able to get 12 assists, but that’s not hard to do when you have Giannis and Khris on your team.
For the Hawks, outside of Young, nobody really stood out. John Collins had only 13 points because he was in foul trouble very early in the game and had 5 to start the 2nd half. Kevin Huerter has not performed as he did in Game 7 of the semifinals, and that is definitely something that the Hawks need if they want to win this series and the finals.
Bogdan Bogdanovic has not been playing like himself since he suffered that knee injury against the 76ers. He cannot fully elevate on jump shots, oftentimes is a liability on defense, and his shot selection right now is very poor.
Game 4 Preview
If Trae Young is out, the Bucks are taking this game with ease. They are already the best team in this series and have a more loaded roster to help support Giannis Antetokounmpo. Being able to stop Trae Young was something that they struggled to do in Game 3, but in Game 2, it was the main reason why they won. Since they won’t have to worry about him being his usual self in Game 4, they can look to shut down the rest of the Hawks’ offense.
Khris Middleton is one of the most inconsistent players in the NBA, and you will never know what type of game you will get from him. I expect him to get different defensive looks this game, and that could throw him off. I would look to Giannis and Jrue Holiday to score a majority of the points tonight for the Bucks in their win.
For the Hawks, I think Lou Williams will step up big time tonight. He has that veteran experience coming off of the bench with multiple Sixth Man of the Year awards. No task is too tall for him, and to replace Trae Young and be the playmaker that he is will be a challenge for sure. Even if Trae Young were to play tonight, he would not be 100%.
It will be a blowout for sure, but I wouldn’t count out the Hawks in this series. Sure, they will be down 3-1 going back to Milwaukee, but we have seen all season long and in these playoffs that this team does not back down from anyone.
Game 4 Pick
Tonight, I have the Milwaukee Bucks taking the win, it won’t be a high-scoring game but it will be a blowout nonetheless. They are the better team, and they have all the momentum going into this pivotal Game 4.