After getting shellacked by the Bucks the previous night, the Hawks rebounded their way to a 90-85 win in Milwaukee.
“I think our energy and effort were good coming out of the gate,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer on the team’s response to the 30-point loss on Friday. “I think our hands, our rotations… that’s how you get deflections and turnovers and hopefully you can turn those into points.”
Deflections and turnovers is how the Hawks dominated early, turning Milwaukee’s own success from Friday against them. Atlanta forced two turnovers in the first few minutes, which were pivotal in helping Atlanta start off with a 13-3 lead. The Bucks then engaged themselves on defense, which led to a very sloppy end of the first quarter that once saw the Hawks gain five offensive rebounds on one possession… only for Dennis Schröder to turn the ball over on a bad pass. The first quarter ended with a 21-10 Hawks lead.
The Bucks responded in the second quarter, outscoring Atlanta 27-18 in the period. Milwaukee hit four 3s in the quarter, including one from Jared Dudley, who actually happened to miss shots in this contest. The Bucks had taken a lead in this quarter, but the Hawks closed to the quarter strong to retake the lead into halftime.
After the two rather lopsided quarters in the first half, the second half was much more hotly contested. The two teams went back and forth until Jeff Teague started to regain the all star form that we had seen from him before his hamstring injury. Teague scored 16 of his 25 points in the second half and was the catalyst for the Hawks being able to outlast the Bucks on their way to a victory. Teague’s final stat line was one of the bests of his career: 25 points, a career-high tying eight rebounds, and seven assists.
“[Jeff] was great,” said Al Horford. “He was attacking, getting under defenders, getting into the lane. Sometimes when you have an injury and step out, you come back and you’re a little rusty. I think it just took him a couple of games to get going, but it’s good to see that he’s back to normal.”
Speaking of normal, while I cannot that Horford shot the ball well in this game, I am a fan of him asserting his game and taking 20 shots. Horford scored 20 points on 8-for-20 shooting, but a lot of his missed shots were open jumpers that he usually sinks at a league-leading rate. It’s good to see the Hawks offense revolve around Horford a little more as he continues to improve from the injury that sidelined him for the majority of last season.
The Atlanta bench was really poor in this contest, even with a nice individual performance from Thabo Sefolosha. Sefolosha aside, the bench was 2-for-14 from the field, including a 1-for-5 each from Schröder and Pero Antic. Schröder’s game has fallen back to earth the past few games, which isn’t unexpected after how his role increased during Teague’s absence. However, as he transitions back to a bench role, the Hawks are going to need better performances out of him if the team expects to continue their success.
The Hawks have a couple of days off before they face the Cavaliers again. This time it will take place in the confines of Philips Arena, where the Hawks are 13-3 on the season. The Cavs, despite some “struggles” are still sitting comforatably with an 18-11 record and will be looking to avenge their own blowout loss from the Hawks from a couple of weeks ago. Expect an energetic contest in this game.