ATLANTA — The playoff payoff for the Atlanta Hawks continued Wednesday night when they took home Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals in Milwaukee.
The Hawks narrowly beat out the Milwaukee Bucks 116-113.
The fifth seeded underdog Hawks squared off against perennial league MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the third seeded Bucks in front of a raucous, sell-out crowd in Fiserv Arena.
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The phrase commonly heard when describing the Hawks right now is that they are “playing with house money.”
The reason for that is simple: Almost nobody would have thought that after a 14-20 start to the season, Atlanta would go on a run, beating the heavily favored New York Knicks, then taking down the top seeded Philadelphia 76ers.
After all, the Hawks haven’t been in the conference finals since 2016. Since arriving in Atlanta back in 1968, they’ve never played for the NBA title.
Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein spoke to Hawks coach Nate McMillan and Guard Kevin Heurter ahead of Wednesday night’s game, neither of them seem concerned about what anyone else thinks.
“We’ve talked about this from the beginning, not listening to outside noise, what everybody is saying,” McMillan said. “You know it is about the guys in the locker room and the message we’re delivering.”
“It is what it is. People are going to doubt you. It’s an easy thing to say, ‘It’s the haters that motivated you’,” said Huerter. “That’s really our motivation. We’ve just got to keep playing our game. We’ve said it before, our confidence in the locker room is most important. There’s a lot of belief in there.”
Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein Is in Milwaukee to cover this series. Watch WSB Tonight at 11 p.m. for live updates.
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The Hawks enter this series a little banged up. Trae Young played the last several games against the 76ers sporting a clearly injured shoulder. Guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has been hampered by a sore knee which limited his availability for the final two games of the Sixers series. Cam Reddish, who has missed most of the season, hasn’t been ruled out for the series and may get a chance to play as well.
They’ll be tested by a tough Bucks team run by former Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. Coach Bud relies heavily on the skills of Antetokounmpo, who is regarded as one of the NBA’s top 5 players. Jrue Holiday will draw the assignment of covering Young, Holiday is considered one of the league’s best defenders and Khris Middleton complements Antetokounmpo well and is a dangerous scoring threat.
Here’s the schedule for the series as of right now:
- Game 2: Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Milwaukee
- Game 3: Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in Atlanta
- Game 4: Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in Atlanta
- Game 5: (If necessary), Thursday, July 1, 8:30 p.m. in Milwaukee
- Game 6: (If necessary), Saturday, July 3, 8:30 p.m. in Atlanta
- Game 7: (If necessary), Monday, July 5, 8:30 p.m. in Milwaukee
Tune in to WSB Tonight for the latest highlights, news and information on the Hawks as they try to make the NBA Finals for the first time since moving to Atlanta.
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