By winning Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night, Milwaukee Bucks are closer than Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Finals. Going into Game 6 on Saturday night (Sunday morning IST), the momentum has slightly shifted in favor of the Bucks that found a roster capable of lifting the heavy weight of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s absence.
After losing Game 5, Hawks coach Nate McMillan as a matter-of-fact stated Game 6 is do-or-die. But Hawks aren’t strangers to such situations. Game 4 of this series was win-or-go-home in some ways as Hawks were down 2-1, and a loss would mean 3-1 deficit with Game 5 in Milwaukee. And Trae Young was out too. But Hawks soared in Game 4 and how.
The last two games exhibited the prowess of the supporting cast in both teams that missed its star players. Bucks had four of the five starters scoring 22+ points in their convincing win in Game 5 while Hawks found Lou Williams, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, and Kevin Huerter contributing to the Game 4 blowout of Bucks.
There is still no update whether Young and Antetokounmpo will step on the hardwood in Game 6. But don’t be surprised if they make the cut as Hawks will need Young’s playmaking skills to stay alive while Bucks will want their Greek superstar to close the deal.
Hawks’ top-scorer in the last game Bogdan Bogdanovic spelled out improvements his team needed going into Game 6. “We have to start better, execution offensively, and game plan and defense. Obviously, turnovers, control the game better, control the ball,” explained Bogdanovic. “Better one-on-one defense, better rotations defensively and box out.”
Brook Lopez, who had a career playoff game, didn’t want to think about being one game away from the NBA Finals. “It’s exciting. You know, but it’s obviously not done. We need to bottle that energy and effort that we had and do it again in two days,” said Lopez.
A win for Bucks means they will make it to their first NBA Finals in 47 years, while if Hawks wish to make it to the summit clash for the first time in 60 years, they will have to win two games back-to-back. But for now, they would look to survive the series.
Catch the Game 6 live on Star Sports Select and NBA League Pass at 6 AM IST on Sunday