MILWAUKEE — Good day. I arrived in Josh Smith’s favorite restaurant town too late for the Hawks’ early morning shoot-around, but I was able to get behind enemy lines for Bucks’ practice.
Tonight’s game is a sellout. Fans here must be anticipating some kind of celebration or something.
While this should not at all be taken as a prediction, any thoughts that Milwaukee players are cocky or overconfident heading into tonight’s game six and potential elimination game for the Hawks were quickly doused. Bucks coach Scott Skiles, who has done as good a coaching job as anybody in the postseason, already knows what button to push. He believes his team was fortunate to win game five in Atlanta and can’t afford to get away with that kind of performance again.
“The reality is they outplayed us for 40-plus minutes in game five,” Skiles said. “We were down by nine with four minutes to go. We had a lot of hustle plays and a lot of things went our way. Brandon [Jennings] missed a free throw so bad that it allowed Ersan [Ilyasovato] to get a rebound [leading to two more free throws by John Salmons that closed the deficit to 82-81]. If that thing rims in and out, they get a rebound. I’m sure Mike [Woodson] is looking at that and saying, ‘There’s a whole bunch of plays that went against us and if any one of those doesn’t, we win that game.’ That’s the way it is this time of year.”
For what it’s worth, the Bucks stated the obvious: They expect the Hawks to come out strong and try to attack inside, where they have a significant size advantage because of the absence of Milwaukee Andrew Bogut.
From Luke Ridnour: “They’re gonna really attack the hoop and not settle for so many jump shots. They’ll really try to be aggressive and make some plays. We understand that they’re at their best when they’re scoring in the paint so we have to take the point paints away as a team and really defend the whole block area as a unit.”
Skiles again: “We won the other night even though didn’t play as well as we’d like. … They certainly have the ability to [attack inside]. We’ve done a respectable job cutting off some angles and forcing them into some jump shots and some of their decisions. We’re usually a good team in defending the painted area, but [the Hawks are] really testing us with their length and getting in there. They outscored us 44-26 in game five and we were still able to win. We probably can’t weather that again.”
That’s it for now. I’ll check back in before the game with a live blog.
By the way, interesting results so far in our poll. While readers consider the Braves’ 1996 World Series loss to the New York Yankees as the runaway biggest collapse in Atlanta pro sports postseason history, you also believe this potential Hawks series defeat would rank second — even ahead of the Falcons’ 1980 playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Click here if you haven’t weighed in yet.