Current losers of 7 of their past 10 games, the Milwaukee Bucks are looking for anything they can do to get their season back on track. The spark they were looking for could have come in the shape of Saturday night’s hard fought game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Bucks took this contest 122-117, pushing their record to 37-32 on the year.
1. Bucks forgetting the importance of the first quarter: Coming into Saturday night’s game, the Bucks were looking to take advantage of a young and less talented Atlanta Hawks roster, but that’s not how the first quarter would go for Milwaukee. The Bucks failed to take a lead for the entirety of the first quarter and trailed by as much as 11 points early on. Thanks to a late offensive push by Jabari Parker to close out the first quarter, the Bucks entered the second quarter trailing by only 5 points. It’s starting to appear that slow starts by the Bucks are unfortunately becoming the norm for this squad.
2. Revving up that second quarter engine: While the Bucks struggled for much of the beginning period, Milwaukee put the clamps down during the second quarter. Trailing by 5 coming in, the Bucks showed how strong their defense can be when they’re locked in. Holding the Hawks to 19 points in the quarter as well as forcing 9 Atlanta turnovers. The Bucks on the other hand scored 30 points, creating a 6 point lead for the Bucks at halftime.
3. Jabari of old: Jabari Parker looked good on Offense against the Hawks. Showing off his jump shot, hitting multiple mid range jumpers, as well as stepping out to three point range and making one of his three attempts. But where Jabari looked just like the Jabari we know and love is when he brought the crowd on their feet with two mammoth slam dunks. First, Jabari nearly ended the career of Mike Muscala when Eric Bledsoe hit Parker in stride on a fast break. Next, Parker split the defense on the perimeter and rose well over rookie John Collins, slamming it down and showing the NBA that he indeed still has the explosiveness that once made him a future face of this league.
4. Middleton continues to impress of late: Khris Middleton came into Saturday’s game on a four game hot streak, scoring over 24 points a game while shooting over 55 percent from the field. Against the Hawks, Middleton continued his impressive play, while he wasn’t as efficient this time around, shooting 43% from the field, he still managed to score 23 points while hitting 50% of his three point attempts. Middleton helped seal the win tonight for Milwaukee with multiple clutch free throws, and defensive possessions.
5. Playing down to the NBA’s worst: For the last two years, the Milwaukee Bucks have always been guilty of playing up to or down to the competition, and unfortunately on Saturday, this trend was once again in full effect. The Bucks started this game playing catch up for the majority of the first half, and even when they took a double digit lead, within minutes it was back to a two or three possession game. The Bucks needed clutch play by all five of their starters, as well as some boneheaded decisions by the opponent.