After Khris Middleton did his best MJ/Kobe impression in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The biggest story for this penultimate (ultimate?) game in Georgia, though, centers around Hawks star Trae Young’s health. Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The biggest story for this penultimate (ultimate?) game in Georgia, though, centers around Hawks star Trae Young’s health.
For Atlanta, their season depends on Young’s right leg. After coming down on a ref’s shoe as the third quarter drew to a close, the Hawks guard exited to the locker room before returning midway through the fourth quarter, lacking his usual penetration ability. That shut down another banner night for him: he had just 3 of his team-high 35 points after being subbed out with the injury. An MRI yesterday revealed that Young has a bone bruise in right his foot and not a high ankle sprain as originally reported. Young is listed as questionable and says he will play. Though his injury seems somewhat minor, anything less than Young at 100% makes the Hawks’ already tough sledding even tougher. Aside from him, Bogdan Bogdanovic is probable with his sore right knee, while De’Andre Hunter and Brandon Goodwin remain out.
After starting the series with two excellent efforts, Jrue Holiday’s production cratered to just 6 points on 2/11 from the field on Sunday, though he racked up 12 assists finding open teammates. He’s had his hands full on the other end as the primary assignment on Young so perhaps an off-night is to be expected in the shooting department, but if Young is hobbled, Holiday could bounce back.
Portis got a decent look in the first half and immediately provided an offensive spark for an offense that was mired in what seemed like a two-quarter slump. Bobby isn’t perfect defensively and had a brutal miscommunication with Brook Lopez that resulted in a wide-open Trae Young three, but this was a night where the Bucks needed a spark offensively. Enter BOBBY PORTIS! He played 17 minutes and scored 15 points while finishing plus-17. He rode the bench in the second half for longer than I would have liked, but better late than never. It says a lot about his character from going from a series where he practically did not play, to being thrown into the fire and still contributing. Hats off to him. As for Connaughton, he scored only five points but the majority of his clutch play won’t show up in the stat sheet. He kept possessions alive offensively by using his active hands to tip out missed shots and he forced a humongous turnover by not giving up on a live ball and deflecting it off Trae’s foot to give possession back to MKE. Like it or not, he is going to be out there when they go small in crunch time and his athleticism gives Bud more than enough of a reason to keep him on the floor. He also finished a game-high plus-25.