The struggle (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Atlanta Hawks 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 Milwaukee Bucks
Marquis Daniels, SF 15 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1

At some point, I predicted Marquis Daniels would make one of five shots. He made one of seven. I was surprised to have been so wrong. It would have been one of five, but he missed two contested layups on the same possession. On offense he’s been pretty futile this season. On defense, there’s a notable difference between him chasing the opposition around screens and other Bucks players. He’s a little smarter, more capable of going over the top of the off ball screens. I wish he could make the Dunleavys and Redicks a little better on defense, so he wouldn’t have to play 15 minutes.

Ersan Ilyasova, SF 28 MIN | 7-16 FG | 5-8 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +1

Effective as ever on the glass and on offense. But he wasn’t much of a challenge for Josh Smith on the other end. What can be done though? Ersan has to be out there and he’s probably too small for Al Horford. He missed an important free throw late, and he was one of two Bucks to do so. That was a problem.

Larry Sanders, C 32 MIN | 7-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +5

Zero technical fouls, so this game was a pretty big success for him for the most part. More seriously, he isn’t getting much help defending Hawks bigs on pick and rolls. He’s helping off on guards, and then Milwaukee’s guards simply chase that part of the play and very rarely does anyone rotate over to help him. I don’t toss all of the blame on him for the nice numbers of the big men he’s been guarding lately.

Monta Ellis, PG 39 MIN | 8-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 20 PTS | -4

He had a pretty quiet game until he began to erupt again in the fourth quarter. He banged in threes on three straight possessions, putting the Bucks up five with 2:45 to play. But as crucial as those were, they mattered less when he threw the ball to an unsuspecting JJ Redick with 27 seconds left in a tie game. Redick looked to be coming around a screen, but pulled up a bit short. An important miscommunication.

Brandon Jennings, PG 43 MIN | 4-15 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 13 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | 0

A night after shooting 1-for-15 in Indiana, Jennings struggled again to find the bottom of the net. He fared better against the Hawks tough backcourt of Jeff Teague and Devin Harris, putting some significant ball pressure on Harris with great success in the first half. But Jennings limitations as a finisher were on display numerous times once again – 2-for-7 inside five feet. He’s absolutely got to figure that out.

Ekpe Udoh, PF 19 MIN | 5-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -6

10 points for Ekpe Udoh is always a special occasion. Less special? One rebound for Ekpe Udoh. It’s just strange, especially considering he was matched up on Al Horford pretty regularly. It’s not like he was far from the hoop. What gives?

J.J. Redick, SG 26 MIN | 4-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -6

Some uncharacteristically strange moves and a big miss on a wide open 3-pointer that could have gone a long way towards wining this one for the Bucks marred an otherwise typical Redick night. The aforementioned miscommunication with Ellis was damning, but equally as strange was Redick, after a defensive rebound, trying to create like a madmen in traffic in transition after Ellis had just hit two threes. Redick crossed over, lost possession and then had to scramble just to end up in a jump ball. He didn’t have numbers, but he was determined to make something happen with no apparent reason. Fortunately, Milwuakee retained possession, but that was strange.

Jim Boylan

He took credit for Milwaukee’s troubles executing late. On the miscommunication between Ellis and Redick:

“That’s on me. I gotta take responsibility for that and not let those things happen.”

And then on the offensive rebound Milwaukee gave up on a Hawks free throw with 21 seconds remaining:

“Again, little loss of focus at the end there. Again, that’s all on me. I’ve got to make our guys more aware. We’ve got to execute better in the end. That’s my job.”

But really, an offensive rebound allowed on a free throw with 21 seconds to play in what was then a one point game seems like more of an issue with the players. If they can’t dial up the focus at that point, when will it ever happen?

Three Things We Saw

  1. Milwaukee led 97-92 after an Ellis three with 2:45 to play. The rest of the way, the Hawks would outscore them 12-2. The Bucks had five turnovers in 10 possessions the rest of the way. Twice they were fouled, twice they made just one free throw in two attempts. They allowed an offensive rebound on a free throw in a one point game. It was like a clinic on how not to close out a game.
  2. The Bucks have struggled defending Atlanta’s 3-point shooting all season. In the first half, it was more of the same. Atlanta made seven-of-19 threes. But Milwaukee made some adjustments finally in the second half and allowed only seven Hawks 3-point attempts, shutting down the corner threes on the weakside where Atlanta attacked from relentlessly in the first half. But still, Milwaukee lost the larger battle (scoreboard) in the second half, 54-50.
  3. Again and again these teams play and again and again the games are close. But every time, the Hawks are coming out on top. It seems like a bit of good fortune on Atlanta’s part and a bit of poor execution on Milwaukee’s every time. The Hawks regularly take advantage of opportunities the Bucks give them, something the Bucks have been less capable of.