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ATLANTA, GEORGIA – JUNE 29: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks is injured against Clint Capela #15 of the Atlanta Hawks during the second half in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at State Farm Arena on June 29, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo : Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The Atlanta Hawks knotted their series with the Milwaukee Bucks after an emphatic 110-88 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Six players scored in double-figures for the Hawks who now head to Milwaukee for Game 5 with the series tied at two games apiece.
Lou Williams delivers in first career postseason start
Leading the way for Atlanta in this huge home win was Lou Williams. He stepped up big time in the absence of star point guard Trae Young who was declared out about 45 minutes before tip-off due to a bone bruise in his right foot. Williams started in his place and duly delivered, finishing with a team-high 21 points, five rebounds and eight assists in 35 minutes of action. It was a remarkable performance by Williams who was making his first career postseason start.
Williams had struggled with his range in this series, shooting just 4 of 14 from the field through the first three games. With the series hanging in the balance and their main man sidelined, Sweet Lou played one of the best basketball games of his career, knocking down seven of his nine field goal attempts to pace Atlanta. Williams tried his best Young impersonation in Game 4, scoring or assisting on 15 of Atlanta’s 43 made field goals (34.8 percent).
Williams was not the only one who had a huge bounce-back performance for the Hawks in Game 4. Bogdan Bogdanovic finally woke up from his offensive slumber, scoring 20 points on 7 of 19 shooting from the field, including 6 of 14 from beyond the arc. He also added three rebounds and five assists and was a menace on the defensive end, grabbing four steals.
Apart from Williams and Bogdanovic, Clint Capela, Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari and Cam Reddish also scored in double-figures for the Hawks who needed a total team effort to help offset the loss of Young’s offensive production.
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Bucks crumble after Giannis injury
All the momentum was with Milwaukee heading into Game 4 of the Eastern Finals. The Bucks moved to within two victories of the NBA Finals after recording impressive wins in Games 2 and 3 against the Hawks. They also learned just minutes before the start of Game 4 that Young was unavailable as his ankle injury failed to recover in time.
Winning a playoff game is never easy, though, especially against a wounded team. The Bucks shot miserably in the opening half, scoring just 38 points for their lowest scoring half of the postseason as they trailed by 13 points during the break. They had not scored fewer than 41 points in a half during these playoffs.
It only got worse for the Bucks in the second half as Giannis Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee during the third quarter. The Greek Freak tried to contest Clint Capela’s alley-oop dunk and landed awkwardly as a result, immediately grasping his left knee in pain. The Bucks were never the same without their leader as the Hawks went on a blistering 25-8 run the rest of the quarter to build an 87-62 lead.
With Antetokounmpo’s status for the rest of the series uncertain, it is up to future Olympians Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to carry the torch for Milwaukee. Middleton struggled mightily in Game 4, scoring just 16 points on 6 of 17 shooting from the floor, including 0 for 7 from deep.
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