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NBA Playoffs 2021: Milwaukee Bucks vs Atlanta Hawks Series Preview

Atlanta Hawks (L) and Milwaukee Bucks (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Atlanta Hawks (L) and Milwaukee Bucks (Photo Credit: Reuters)

Atlanta Hawks are into their first Eastern Conference Finals since 2015, while the Milwaukee Bucks return for a shot at the NBA Finals, with their last Conference Finals appearance coming in 2019.

The Eastern Conference Finals are set with the Atlanta Hawks taking down the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7 to book a matchup against the Milwaukee Bucks, who emerged in a Game 7 thriller against the Brooklyn Nets. The No. 5 seed Hawks are into their first Conference Finals since 2015, while the Bucks return for a shot at the NBA Finals, with their last Conference Finals appearance coming in 2019, where they let a 2-0 lead slip to the Toronto Raptors in 2019.

Can Giannis Antetokounmpo get his team over the hump? Or will Trae Young and the Hawks’ fairytale run continue?

Young has been the breakout star of the postseason, leading the young Hawks to the Conference Finals in his first playoff campaign.

The 22-year-old has been electric both against the New York Knicks in the first round and the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round, averaging 29.1 points, 10.4 assists and 1.3 steals on 41.3 percent shooting and 33.0 percent from the 3-point line.

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Despite a poor showing through three quarters in Game 7 against the 76ers, Young showed plenty of metal down the stretch, scoring 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, stepping up with the season on the line, despite receiving plenty of defensive attention from Ben Simmons and Matise Thybulle.

The Bucks were the No.1 defensive team in the regular season and have plenty of options to throw at Young, in All-Defensive First Team member Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and P.J. Tucker, with his high-octane pace capable of putting them on the backfoot as he gets into the lane with ease.

Meanwhile, the likes of Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez will have to be on their toes on switches and at the rim. While his passing and 3-point shooting are the primary threats, Young’s floater has quickly become one of his most dangerous weapons and his primary source of offence, connecting on 49.4 percent (41-of-83) through this postseason.

He sets the tone for the Hawks on offence and the more pressure the Bucks are able to apply on the perimeter will force the supporting cast to knock down shots.

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first published:June 23, 2021, 19:11 IST