Game 3 Preview: Well, if it’s going to happen…
It might as well be tonight, right?
Milwaukee Bucks (Scott Skiles) 0-2
Atlanta Hawks (Mike Woodson) 2-0
Time: 6:00 (CST)
TV: ESPN and FS Wisconsin
How in the world can the Bucks win this?
Take Advantage of Home Court
The Bucks haven’t played a meaningful home game this late in the year in nearly nine years. The Bradley Center crowd is going to want reasons to explode. Squad Six wants to get wild. Milwaukee trailed badly after the first quarter of game one and kind of bad in game two, another slow start could get the crowd out of it early and keep Atlanta’s confidence up. A fast start from Milwaukee could insert doubt into the minds of the Hawks. Atlanta was just 19-22 on the road this season.
It Ain’t Ova Till Ilyasova
Ersan Ilyasova is having a strong series and the cries to move him into the starting lineup have been getting louder. He’s averaging a double double at 12.5/10 and has a PER of 23.8. Even if he doesn’t start this one, he’ll certainly need to be on the court more than the 23.5 minutes he’s averaged so far this series. I know the Bucks value Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s defense very highly, but if he loses some minutes to make way for more Ersan, I don’t think anyone would have too much of a problem with that. It’s not like Ilyasova is a terrible defender. He gives great effort and rebounds the ball very well on the defensive end. He can’t possibly hurt the Bucks any more than they’ve been getting hurt.
The Bucks have outscored the Hawks by two points in the 48 minutes that Ersan Ilyasova has been on the court in this series. In the 48 minutes that Ilyasova has been on the bench in this series, the Bucks have been outscored by 22 points.
Time For ThomFino
Kurt Thomas and Carlos Delfino seem to be having some sort of secret competition for who can play worse this series. After both playing significant roles all season for Milwaukee, their play has fallen off a cliff. Perhaps age has caught up to Thomas and injuries to Delfino. Or maybe they both have just slumped at the wrong time. Whatever the case may be, Milwaukee needs to figure out if they can be fixed or if they need to be sat. Milwaukee simply can’t trot these two out for another 30 minutes each and get returns like they have the first two games
Thomas: 4.8 PER, 22.2 TS%, 7 PFs/4 PTS
Delfino: 5.1 PER, 35.5 TS%, 0-5 3FG
Find A Way To Stop What’s Been Happening
The Hawks have been running like bulls in the first quarters of the last two games, turning Milwaukee turnovers into easy points. Their length on the perimeter has had Bucks guards dribbling away from the hoop and launching long passes all over the court. Predictably, the Hawks have feasted on these passes, turning them into easy scoring opportunities. Milwaukee needs to find a way to counter the Hawks aggressiveness, perhaps with a lineup free of LRMAM, to give Milwaukee five scoring threats at once. If Milwaukee can limit these instances and, as I’m been stressing, knock down a few more threes, a win remains possible.