At any level of basketball, superior talent and athletic ability does not always win out. At some levels it does, grade school, middle school and high school come to mind, but this is the NBA you’re reading about. If gathering athleticism were all it took to win games, the league would look drastically different. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have the physical edge though. In terms of athletic ability, their was a significant difference between the Bucks and Hawks Monday night.
Those glaring differences were evident late in the second quarter. Milwaukee’s unit of Andrew Bogut, Jon Brockman, John Salmons, Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling repeatedly looked to make entry passes or get open on cuts but found Hawks defenders poking away passes and staying with them. In particular, Josh Smith’s long reach and incredible jumping skill seemed paired with a rare high motor for him Monday night. When he and his Hawk teammates are tuned in against a Bucks lineup that physically isn’t capable of the same feats, things can look pretty ugly for extended stretches.
At no point though, was the Hawks athletic superiority more on display than with 9:22 left in the game. Milwaukee hadn’t had a lot to get excited about Monday, but after a Bogut hook shot cut Atlanta’s lead to eight, Boykins corralled an errant pass from Jeff Teague and found Brockman streaking down the court. Brockman caught the pass in the paint and all that was left for Milwaukee’s backup center was make a layup. Brockman stopped, gathered and began his ascent. But Jeff Teague was not wasting his time pouting over a bad pass. Teauge had sprinted down the court and rose up to block Brockman’s layup. Atlanta recovered the loose ball, converted on the other end and rarely saw their lead slip under 10 the rest of the way.
It was one of those nights when Milwaukee’s opposition appeared quicker to every loose ball, but it was also one of those nights when the opposition was jumping higher and running faster too. Add all of that up and it was another one of those nights in which the Bucks come out on the losing end.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).